Cancer research

Inhibition of adaptive immunity by IL9 can be disrupted to achieve rapid T-cell sensitization and rejection of progressive tumor challenges.

PMID 25297635


The tolerogenic cytokine IL9 promotes T regulatory cell function and allergic airway inflammation, but it has not been extensively studied in cancer. In this report, we used IL9-deficient mice to investigate the effects of IL9 in multiple models of breast and colon cancer development. Eliminating endogenous IL9 enabled sensitization of host T cells to tumors, leading to their early rejection without the requirement of vaccines or immunomodulatory therapies. Notably, IL9-deficient mice acquired immunologic memory, which actively protected from residual disease and tumor rechallenge, an effect linked to activation of CD8(+) T cells. Depletion of either CD8(+) or CD4(+) T cells abolished the benefits of IL9 loss to tumor control. Adoptive transfer experiments showed that T cells from tumor-rejecting IL9-deficient mice retained their effector competency in wild-type animals. Moreover, neutralizing IL9 antibody phenocopied the effects of IL9 gene deletion by slowing tumor progression in wild-type animals. Our results show the ability of IL9 to function as an inhibitor of adaptive immunity that prevents the formation of immunologic memory to a growing tumor, highlighting the potential for IL9 neutralization as a unique tool for cancer immunotherapy.