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Bone Marrow Transplant. 2003 Jul;32(2):177-86.

IL-2-based immunotherapy after autologous transplantation for lymphoma and breast cancer induces immune activation and cytokine release: a phase I/II trial.

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Blood and Marrow Transplant Program and Cancer Center, University of Minnesota, Mayo Mail Code 286, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA.


We determined the safety, immune activating effects, and potential efficacy of i.v. infusion of ex vivo interleukin-2 (IL-2) activated natural killer (NK) cells (part I) or IL-2 boluses (part II) during daily s.c. IL-2 administration following hematopoietic recovery from autologous transplantation. In all, 57 patients with relapsed lymphoma (n=29) or metastatic breast cancer (n=28) were enrolled. In part I of the study, 34 patients were enrolled at three dose levels of ex vivo IL-2-activated NK cells. Lymphaphereses were performed on days 28 and 42 of s.c. IL-2 administration. Following overnight ex vivo IL-2 activation of the pheresis product, the cells were reinfused the following day. In part II, 23 patients were enrolled at three dose levels of supplemental i.v. IL-2 bolus infusions, given on days 28 and 35 during s.c. IL-2 administration. Toxicities were generally mild, and no patient required hospitalization. Lytic function was markedly enhanced for fresh peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMNCs) obtained 1 day postinfusion of either IL-2-activated cells or IL-2 boluses. IL-2 boluses transiently increased the levels of IL-6, IFN-gamma, TNF-alpha and IL1-beta, with increases in IL-6 and IFN-gamma being dose dependent. A total of 37 patients (19 patients with lymphoma, 18 with breast cancer) treated with an optimum dose of post-transplant immunotherapy (defined as having received 1.75 x 10(6) IU/m(2)/day of s.c. IL-2 plus at least one of the planned ex vivo IL-2-activated cell infusions/IL-2 boluses) could be matched with controls from the Autologous Blood and Marrow Transplant Registry database. The matched-pairs analysis demonstrated no improvement in disease outcomes of survival and relapse. We conclude that IL-2-activated cells/IL-2 boluses can be safely administered, generate PBMNCs with enhanced cytotoxicity against NK-resistant targets, and increase cytokine levels. With this dose and schedule of administration of IL-2, no improvement in patient disease outcomes was noted. Alternative strategies will be needed to exploit the immunotherapeutic potential of IL-2-activated NK cells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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