Document Type


Original Publication Date


Journal/Book/Conference Title

International Journal of Molecular Sciences





DOI of Original Publication



Originally published at

Date of Submission

December 2015


We previously demonstrated that interleukin (IL)-7/15 was superior to IL-2 for expansion of T cells in vitrofor adoptive immunotherapy. We sought to ascertain whether IL-21 would further improve yield and therapeutic efficacy of T cells in culture. Naïve T cell receptor (TcR) transgenic splenocytes or antigen-sensitized lymph node cells were harvested from PMEL-1 mice and exposed to bryostatin-1 and ionomycin (B/I) for 18 h. Cells were then cultured in IL-2, IL-21, IL-7/15 or IL-7/15/21 for six days. Harvested cells were analyzed by flow cytometry and used to treat C57Bl/6 mice injected intravenously with B16 melanoma. Lungs were harvested and metastases counted 14 days after treatment. Culturing lymphocytes in IL-7/15/21 increased expansion compared to IL-2 or IL-7/15. IL-21 and IL-7/15/21 increased CD8+ cells compared to IL-2 or IL-7/15. IL-21 preferentially expanded a CD8+CD44−CD62L+ T “naïve” population, whereas IL-7/15/21 increased CD8+CD44+CD62Lhigh central-memory T cells. T cells grown in IL-7/15/21 were more effective at reducing metastases than IL-2. The addition of IL-21 to IL-7/15 induced greater expansion of lymphocytes in culture and increased the yield of CD8+ T central-memory cells vs. IL-7/15 alone. This may have significant impact on future clinical trials of adoptive immunotherapy, particularly for generating adequate numbers of lymphocytes for treatment.


Copyright © 2015 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution license (

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