Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) cells are highly dependent on interactions with the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment (TME) for survival and proliferation. In the search for novel treatments, pro-inflammatory cytokines have emerged as candidates to reactivate the immune system. Among those, IL-27 has recently gained attention, but its effects differ among malignancies. Here, we utilized the Eμ-TCL1 and EBI3 knock-out mouse models as well as clinical samples from patients to investigate the role of IL-27 in CLL. Characterization of murine leukemic spleens revealed that the absence of IL-27 leads to enhanced CLL development and a more immunosuppressive TME in transgenic mice. Gene-profiling of T-cell subsets from EBI3 knock-out highlighted transcriptional changes in the CD8+ T-cell population associated with T-cell activation, proliferation, and cytotoxicity. We also observed an increased anti-tumor activity of CD8+ T cells in presence of IL-27 ex vivo with murine and clinical samples. Notably, IL-27 treatment led to the reactivation of autologous T cells from CLL patients. Finally, we detected a decrease in IL-27 serum levels during CLL development in both pre-clinical and patient samples. Altogether, we demonstrated that IL-27 has a strong antitumorigenic role in CLL and postulate this cytokine as a promising treatment or adjuvant for this malignancy.
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