In a phase I clinical trial on the effects of preoperative adjuvant IL-2 therapy given to patients undergoing hepatic resection of colorectal adenocarcinoma metastases, we monitored the putative induction of T cell clonal expansion in both tissues and blood. The presence of T cell clonotypes was analyzed with a PCR-based method that determines V-D-J junction size patterns in T cell receptor (TCR) V beta subfamilies in samples before and after a 5-d IL-2 infusion. This high resolution method analyzing CDR3 sizes of TCR transcripts was used in conjunction with FACS analysis of the corresponding T cell subpopulations with TCR V beta-specific mAb. At time of surgery (day 8 after starting IL-2), we found in the three patients analyzed with V beta-C beta primers multiple dominant T cell clonotypes in the tumor and peritumoral tissues which had probably expanded as a result of therapy. In three control patients not treated with IL-2, multiple oligoclonal patterns were not observed with this set of primers. In the fourth control patient a unique V beta 21-C beta CDR3 pattern which corresponds to two dominant clonotypes was found in the tumor. The same dominant clonotypes identified in the tumor after IL-2 were also detectable in the blood and comparison of the profiles obtained before and after IL-2 therapy indicates that they were induced by IL-2. The relative expansion of the corresponding T cell subpopulations was maintained for varying periods of time after surgery (4-7 d and almost 2 yr in one case). Together, these results indicate that IL-2 induces marked expansion of several T cell clones. Systemic IL-2 administration may represent, either alone or as a vaccine adjuvant, an appropriate way of boosting antigen-specific immune responses.
A Kumar, F Farace, C Gaudin, F Triebel