Systemic interleukin-2 (IL-2) therapy has been shown to enhance the clinical efficacy of peptide-based cancer vaccines. However, the mechanisms involved in this complex response remain poorly defined. IL-2 is known to be a potent T cell growth factor, but recent studies suggest that IL-2 is also involved in the regulation of T cell immune responses by increasing the susceptibility of proliferating T cells to apoptosis. Using an adoptive transfer model, we demonstrate that the administration of systemic IL-2 significantly enhances the primary and memory immune responses following peptide-based vaccination. In order to define the mechanisms of IL-2 therapy on the antigen-specific T cell response, the kinetics of T cell proliferation, apoptosis, and trafficking were explored. Systemic IL-2 therapy did not appear to alter the kinetics of T cell proliferation immediately following vaccination, but did prolong the proliferative response. Furthermore, IL-2 therapy did not significantly influence apoptosis of proliferating T cells. Such therapy did, however, potentiate L-selectin (CD62L) downregulation on activated antigen-specific T cells, and altered their trafficking confirming their potential therapeutic value. Our findings support the use of systemic IL-2 following peptide-based vaccination, and suggest that IL-2 therapy enhances the primary and memory immune responses by prolonging the proliferative response and altering the trafficking of antigen-specific T cells.
- CD8 T cell
- Peptide-based cancer vaccine