Research Papers:

IL-15 superagonist/IL-15RαSushi-Fc fusion complex (IL-15SA/IL-15RαSu-Fc; ALT-803) markedly enhances specific subpopulations of NK and memory CD8+ T cells, and mediates potent anti-tumor activity against murine breast and colon carcinomas

Peter S. Kim _, Anna R. Kwilas, Wenxin Xu, Sarah Alter, Emily K. Jeng, Hing C. Wong, Jeffrey Schlom and James W. Hodge

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:16130-16145. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.7470

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Peter S. Kim1, Anna R. Kwilas1, Wenxin Xu2, Sarah Alter2, Emily K. Jeng2, Hing C. Wong2, Jeffrey Schlom1,*, James W. Hodge1,*

1Laboratory of Tumor Immunology and Biology, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA

2Altor BioScience Corporation, Miramar, FL, USA

*These authors have contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

James W. Hodge, e-mail: [email protected]

Keywords: IL-15, IL-15 superagonist, NK cells, immunotherapy

Received: September 02, 2015     Accepted: February 11, 2016     Published: February 18, 2016


Interleukin (IL)-15-N72D superagonist-complexed with IL-15RαSushi-Fc fusion protein (IL-15SA/IL-15RαSu-Fc; ALT-803) has been reported to exhibit significant anti-tumor activity in murine myeloma, rat bladder cancer, and murine glioblastoma models. In this study, we examined the immunomodulatory and anti-tumor effects of IL-15SA/IL-15RαSu-Fc in tumor-free and highly metastatic tumor-bearing mice. Here, IL-15SA/IL-15RαSu-Fc significantly expanded natural killer (NK) and CD8+ T cells. In examining NK cell subsets, the greatest significant increase was in highly cytotoxic and migrating (CD11b+, CD27hi; high effector) NK cells, leading to enhanced function on a per-cell basis. CD8+ T cell subset analysis determined that IL-15SA/IL-15RαSu-Fc significantly increased IL-15 responding memory (CD122+, CD44+) CD8+ T cells, in particular those having the innate (NKG2D+, PD1) phenotype. In 4T1 breast tumor–bearing mice, IL-15SA/IL-15RαSu-Fc induced significant anti-tumor activity against spontaneous pulmonary metastases, depending on CD8+ T and NK cells, and resulting in prolonged survival. Similar anti-tumor activity was seen in the experimental pulmonary metastasis model of CT26 colon carcinoma cells, particularly when IL-15SA/IL-15RαSu-Fc was combined with a cocktail of checkpoint inhibitors, anti-CTLA-4 and anti-PD-L1. Altogether, these studies showed for the first time that IL-15SA/IL-15RαSu-Fc (1) promoted the development of high effector NK cells and CD8+ T cell responders of the innate phenotype, (2) enhanced function of NK cells, and (3) played a vital role in reducing tumor metastasis and ultimately survival, especially in combination with checkpoint inhibitors.

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