We identified a dog with large granular lymphocytic leukemia and cutaneous lymphoma that exhibited constitutive expression of interleukin-2 (IL-2) receptors by the leukemic peripheral blood lymphocytes. The leukemic cells phenotypically resembled natural killer (NK) cells, and their surface IL-2 receptors were functional, as determined by the capacity to bind human recombinant IL-2 with high- affinity resulting in the transduction of proliferation signals and in the development of lymphokine-activated killer cell activity. These cells produced IL-2 spontaneously, and they may have maintained their proliferative state through an IL-2-dependent autocrine growth pathway. Our results indicate that neoplastic lymphocytes of syndromes that involve circulating leukemic cells with dermotropism can originate from NK-like cells. Additionally, the data also suggest that proliferative conditions such as these may be the result of the aberrant production of IL-2. Further, this case illustrates the potential for the use of hematopoietic malignancies in the dog as a suitable animal model for immune targeting of IL-2 receptors as a novel treatment approach for similar malignancies of human beings.

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