✓ Lymphokine-activated killer (LAK) cells are a heterogeneous population of immune effector cells that nonspecifically destroy neoplastic cells but not normal cells. Although parenteral treatment with interleukin-2 (IL-2) alone or a combination of IL-2 and LAK cells reduces tumor load and prolongs survival in mice with pulmonary, peritoneal, or hepatic metastases, the effect of these treatments on brain metastases has not been studied. To determine in an animal model if intracerebral metastases would be protected by the immunologically privileged status of the brain, intracardiac and intravenous injections of 105 KHT sarcoma cells were performed in C3H mice to create brain and lung metastases, respectively. The mice were treated with adoptive immunotherapy to determine if efficacy seen in an extracerebral site could be reproduced in the brain, and if histological examination of these brains would reveal a significant degree of lymphocyte infiltration and cytolytic activity. Animals were treated with either parenteral IL-2 (7500 U three times daily on Days 3 to 7 after tumor injection), or IL-2 plus LAK cells (7500 U IL-2 three times daily on Days 3 to 7, and 108 LAK cells intravenously on Days 3 and 6 after tumor injection), or IL-2 excipient (three times daily on Days 3 to 7 after tumor injection).
As compared to control animals, pulmonary metastases on Day 14 after tumor injection were reduced or eliminated in animals treated with either IL-2 or IL-2 plus LAK cells (p < 0.01). In these same animals, there was no reduction in the number of intracerebral metastases and no evidence of lymphocytic infiltration or cytolytic activity in the brain. This is the first study that reveals an organ-specific resistance to the treatment of metastases with adoptive immunotherapy, and affirms the concern that due to inadequate trafficking of endogenous or exogenous-activated lymphocytes or due to inadequate activation of in situ brain lymphoid precursors, there is no rejection of tumors in the brain. This information suggests that brain metastases in patients with systemic malignancies will not respond to intravenous treatment with LAK cells and IL-2, and that alternative forms of treatment are needed. Furthermore, this modification of a previously existing model of murine brain metastasis provides a method for concurrently evaluating the effectiveness of treatments for intra- and extracranial cancers.