Profile of cytokine expression in nasopharyngeal carcinomas: A distinct expression of interleukin 1 in tumor and CD4+ T cells

Yu Tzu Huang, Tzung Shiahn Sheen, Chi Long Chen, Jean Lu, Yao Chang, Jen Yang Chen, Ching Hwa Tsai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

103 Citations (Scopus)


Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is an epithelial cancer that is causally associated with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection. NPC tumor biopsies are characterized histopathologically by an abundant infiltration of nonmalignant lymphocytes. We analyzed the expression of various cytokines in NPC tissues to investigate the interaction of the infiltrating lymphocytes and tumor cells. Analysis using reverse transcriptase-PCR revealed the expression of a panel of cytokines in the NPC biopsies: interleukin (IL)-1α, IL-1B, IL-2, IL-4, IL-5, IL-6, IL-10, IFN-γ, tumor necrosis factor-α, transforming growth factor-β, and IL-1 receptor types I and II. Elevated expression of IL-1α and IL-1β was observed in primary tumors and NPC metastases compared to control tissues. Interestingly, this increased expression correlated with the EBV-encoded viral IL-10 transcript. To determine which cells were responsible for producing IL-1, we determined the cellular constituents of NPC biopsies by immunoflow cytometric analysis. On the basis of data from these analyses, the three major specific cell populations, epithelial cells, CD4+ T cells, and CD8+ T cells, were selected from five NPC tumors using specific, antibody-coated paramagnetic beads. Reverse transcriptase-PCR of RNA from these fractionated cells showed that transcripts of IL-1α and IL- 1β were present not only in the malignant epithelial cells but also in CD4+ T cells infiltrating the tumor, a finding confirmed by immunohistochemical staining. We hypothesize that the unusual synthesis of IL-1α and IL-1β by EBV-positive epithelial cells as well as by CD4+ T cells might contribute to lymphocyte infiltration and/or tumor growth during NPC development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1599-1605
Number of pages7
JournalCancer Research
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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