Hematopoietic growth-promoting effects of natural killer cells in mice in response to in vivo administration of human interleukin-2

William J Murphy, Dan L. Longo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Interleukin-2 (IL-2) is currently being evaluated as an anti-neoplastic agent because of its stimulatory effects on the immune system. However, little is known about the effects of systemic IL-2 administration on hematopoietic parameters. Purpose: Recombinant human IL-2 (rHuIL-2) was administered to mice to evaluate its in vivo hematopoietic effects. The mechanism underlying the effects of rHuIL-2 administration was also determined. Methods: Mice were given 5 × 104 IU of rHuIL-2 for 5 days, and their hematopoietic progenitor cell status was determined as measured by growth in soft agar. Antiserum to natural killer (NK) cell-specific markers was used to ascertain if NK cells were responsible for the hematopoietic effects of rHuIL-2. NK cells were purified and cultured in vitro with rHuIL-2 and then adoptively transferred into syngeneic mice to determine the effects on hematopoiesis. Results: Treatment of mice with rHuIL-2 resulted in a significant increase in bone marrow and splenic hematopoietic progenitor cell content. Mice with severe combined immune deficiency (SCID), which lack T cells and B cells yet have NK cells, also responded to the myelostimulatory effects of rHuIL-2. However, removal of NK cells from the SCID mice with antiserum to NK cell-specific markers abrogated the myelostimulatory properties of rHuIL-2. Adoptive transfer of NK cells that were propagated in vitro with rHuIL-2 into mice also resulted in an increase in splenic hematopoietic progenitor cells. Conclusions: rHuIL-2 exerts significant myelostimulatory effects after in vivo administration, and NK cells are responsible for at least some of these effects. Implications: These results suggest that NK cells and rHuIL-2 may be of use clinically to promote hematopoiesis after bone marrow transplantation or in the face of other myelotoxic therapy in the treatment of cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1195-1200
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the National Cancer Institute
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 5 1992
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology
  • Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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