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The potential use of tumour-specific T-lymphocytes loaded with ricin in cell targeting experiments was investigated. Moloney-murine sarcoma virus (M-MSV)-specific T-lymphocytes, obtained in mass mixed leucocyte-tumour cell culture (MLTC) and a M-MSV-specific cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) clone, were incubated with 125I-labelled ricin in order to evaluate toxin uptake and release. The internalized ricin (4.5 X 10(-17) mol and 6.5 X 10(-17) mol per 10(2) MLTC and CTL clone cells, respectively) was released rapidly during the first 30 min following treatment, and at a constant but slower rate over the next few hours. The cytotoxic activity of ricin-treated cells evaluated against antigen-related target cells, in a short term incubation 51Cr release assay, was unaffected during the first 30 min after treatment but decreased with time over the next few hours. However, the growth of antigen related as well as of unrelated tumour cells was strongly inhibited by the addition of ricin-treated cells to the culture system, thus indicating that released ricin is toxic for untreated target cells. The in vivo localization pattern of ricin-treated radiolabelled MLTC cells was found to be comparable with that of untreated cells 1 h after i.v. injection into syngeneic sublethally irradiated mice. After 6 h, however, more radiolabel was recovered from the liver of mice receiving ricin-treated MLTC cells. Ricin-treated M-MSV-specific T-lymphocytes were injected i.v. into tumour bearing sublethally irradiated mice. A temporary tumour growth inhibition (up to 6 days) was achieved following transfer of low doses of ricin-treated MLTC or CTL clone cells (1 X 10(6) and 0.5 X 10(6), respectively). In contrast, in M-MSV injected control mice, receiving only free toxin (from 5 to 20 ng) or untreated tumour-specific effector cell tumours grew progressively. The therapeutic effect was apparently specific since the injection of ricin-treated alloreactive T-lymphocytes did not influence tumour growth. These results suggest that M-MSV-specific T-lymphocytes loaded with ricin can deliver toxin to the target tumour mass and have a transient therapeutic effect.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Cancer

Publication Date





413 - 419


Animals, Cell Survival, Epitopes, Immunization, Passive, Lymphocyte Culture Test, Mixed, Mice, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Moloney murine sarcoma virus, Ricin, Sarcoma, Experimental, T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic, Time Factors