The cytokine interleukin 2 (IL-2) is a mediator of immune cell activation with some antitumor activity, mainly in renal cell cancer and melanoma. We have previously shown that tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α has strong synergistic antitumor activity in combination with chemotherapeutics in the isolated limb perfusion (ILP) setting based on a TNF-mediated enhanced tumor-selective uptake of the chemotherapeutic drug followed by a selective destruction of the tumor vasculature. IL-2 can cause vascular leakage and edema and for this reason we examined the antitumor activity of a combined treatment with IL-2 and melphalan in our well-established ILF in soft tissue sarcoma-bearing rats (BN175). ILP with either IL-2 or melphalan alone has no antitumor effect, but the combination of IL-2 and melphalan resulted in a strong synergistic tumor response, without any local or systemic toxicity. IL-2 enhanced significantly melphalan uptake in tumor tissue. No signs of significant vascular damage were detected to account for this observation, although the tumor sections of the IL-2- and IL-2 plus melphalan-treated animals revealed scattered extravasation of erythrocytes compared with the untreated animals. Clear differences were seen in the localization of ED-1 cells, with an even distribution in the sham, IL-2 and melphalan treatments, whereas in the IL-2 plus melphalan-treated tumors clustered ED-1 cells were found. Additionally, increased levels of TNF mRNA were found in tumors treated with IL-2 and IL-2 plus melphalan. These observations indicate a potentially important role for macrophages in the IL-2-based perfusion. The results in our study indicate that the novel combination of IL-2 and melphalan in ILP has synergistic antitumor activity and may be an alternative for ILP with TNF and melphalan.

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Journal Cancer Research
Hoving, S, Brunstein, F, Aan de Wiel-Ambagtsheer, G, van Tiel, S.T, de Boeck, G, de Bruijn, E.A, … ten Hagen, T.L.M. (2005). Synergistic antitumor response of interleukin 2 with melphalan in isolated limb perfusion in soft tissue sarcoma-bearing rats. Cancer Research, 65(10), 4300–4308. doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-04-2214