Systemic administration of IL-12 and intermittent doses of IL-2 induce complete regression of metastatic murine renal carcinoma. Here, we show that overt tumor regression induced by IL-12/pulse IL-2 is preceded by recruitment of CD8+ T cells, vascular injury, disrupted tumor neovascularization, and apoptosis of both endothelial and tumor cells. The IL-12/IL-2 combination synergistically enhances cell surface FasL expression on CD8+ T lymphocytes in vitro and induces Fas and FasL expression within tumors via an IFN-γ–dependent mechanism in vivo. This therapy also inhibits tumor neovascularization and induces tumor regression by mechanisms that depend critically on endogenous IFN-γ production and an intact Fas/FasL pathway. The ability of IL-12/pulse IL-2 to induce rapid destruction of tumor-associated endothelial cells and regression of established metastatic tumors is ablated in mice with a dysregulated Fas/FasL pathway. The common, critical role for endogenous IFN-γ and the Fas/FasL pathway in early antiangiogenic effects and in antitumor responses suggests that early, cytokine-driven innate immune mechanisms and CD8+ T cell–mediated responses are interdependent. Definition of critical early molecular events engaged by IL-12/IL-2 may provide new perspective into optimal therapeutic engagement of a productive host-antitumor immune response.
Jon M. Wigginton, Eilene Gruys, Lisa Geiselhart, Jeffrey Subleski, Kristin L. Komschlies, Jong-Wook Park, Theresa A. Wiltrout, Kunio Nagashima, Timothy C. Back, Robert H. Wiltrout