Interleukin (IL)-28A/interferon (IFN)-λ2 and IL-29/IFN-λ1 have been demonstrated to elicit direct and indirect anti-tumor actions. In this study, we constructed an adenovirus vector expressing either IL-28A/IFN-λ2 (AdIL-28A) or IL-29/IFN-λ1 (AdIL-29) to evaluate the therapeutic properties of intratumoral injection of recombinant adenovirus to apply for the clinical implementation of cancer gene therapy. Despite the lack of an anti-proliferative effect on MCA205 and B16-F10 cells, a retarded growth of established subcutaneous tumors was observed following multiple injections of either AdIL-28A or AdIL-29 when compared with AdNull. In vivo cell depletion experiments displayed that both NK cells and CD8 + T cells have a major role in AdIL-28A-mediated tumor growth suppression. A significant increase in the number of infiltrating CD8 + T cells into the tumors treated with either AdIL-28A or AdIL-29 was observed. Moreover, specific anti-tumor cytotoxic T lymphocyte reactivity was detected in spleen cells from animals treated with either AdIL-28A or AdIL-29. In IFN-γ-deficient mice, anti-tumor activities of AdIL-28A were completely impaired, indicating that IFN-γ is critically involved in the tumor growth inhibition triggered by AdIL-28A. IL-12 provided a synergistic anti-tumor effect when combined with AdIL-28A. These results indicate that AdIL-28A and AdIL-29 could be successfully utilized as an alternative cancer immunogene therapy.
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