Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950)

Tumoral expression of IL-33 inhibits tumor growth and modifies the tumor microenvironment through CD8+ T and NK cells.

PMID 25429071


Cancer immunotherapy has shown great promise as a new standard cancer therapeutic modality. However, the response rates are limited for current approach that depends on enhancing spontaneous antitumor immune responses. Therefore, increasing tumor immunogenicity by expressing appropriate cytokines should further improve the current immunotherapy. IL-33 is a member of the IL-1 family of cytokines and is released by necrotic epithelial cells or activated innate immune cells and is thus considered a "danger" signal. The role of IL-33 in promoting type 2 immune responses and tissue inflammation has been well established. However, whether IL-33 drives antitumor immune responses is controversial. Our previous work established that IL-33 promoted the function of CD8(+) T cells. In this study, we showed that the expression of IL-33 in two types of cancer cells potently inhibited tumor growth and metastasis. Mechanistically, IL-33 increased numbers and IFN-γ production by CD8(+) T and NK cells in tumor tissues, thereby inducing a tumor microenvironment favoring tumor eradication. Importantly, IL-33 greatly increased tumor Ag-specific CD8(+) T cells. Furthermore, both NK and CD8(+) T cells were required for the antitumor effect of IL-33. Moreover, depletion of regulatory T cells worked synergistically with IL-33 expression for tumor elimination. Our studies established "alarmin" IL-33 as a promising new cytokine for tumor immunotherapy through promoting cancer-eradicating type 1 immune responses.