The malignant B cells from B-chronic lymphocytic leukemia patients release TAC-soluble interleukin-2 receptors

N. E. Kay, J. Burton, D. Wagner, D. L. Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Both membrane (p55) and soluble (p45) forms of TAC-reactive interleukin-2 receptor (IL-2R) are expressed and/or released by activated lymphocytes or monocytes. Previous work has detected increased levels of circulating, TAC-soluble IL-2R (soluble TAC antigen) in the serum of most B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (B-CLL) patients. We detected soluble TAC antigen in B-CLL patients (mean of 3,332 U/mL v 410 for controls). Serum soluble TAC antigen levels increased with stage (mean value of 1,187 U/mL for stage 0 v 2,527 for stage 2 and 5,410 for stages 3 and 4). We next attempted to determine whether the elevated serum levels of soluble TAC antigen in B-CLL patients might result from shedding or secretion of the receptor from the circulating, malignant B cells. Purified, malignant B cells from B-CLL patients were capable producing easily detectable soluble TAC antigen after 48 hours of in vitro culture (range of 60 to 1,563 U/mL). IL-2R production by CLL B cells was dose dependent in most patients over a concentration of 10 x 106 to 60 x 106/mL. In contrast, there was little or no detectable soluble TAC antigen when highly purified T cells from the same patients were cultured. Finally, despite elaboration of soluble IL-2R by CLL B cells, membrane expression of B-cell IL-2R was detected in only six of 11 patients. Thus, the cellular source of the elevated serum IL-2R levels is the malignant CLL B cell. Taken together these data suggest that (a) the malignant CLL B cell is 'activated' in terms of release of soluble IL-2R and may serve as a tumor marker in this disease and (b) the elevated levels of circulating IL-2R may be an associated factor in the cellular immunodeficiency noted in B-CLL patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)447-450
Number of pages4
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Immunology
  • Hematology
  • Cell Biology


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