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J Clin Oncol. 2008 Jun 1;26(16):2725-31. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2007.13.7729. Epub 2008 Apr 21.

Granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor potentiates rituximab in patients with relapsed follicular lymphoma: results of a phase II study.

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Centre Hospitalier Universitaire (CHU), Service d'Hématologie et d'Oncologie Médicale, Montpellier, France.



We hypothesized that granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) could potentiate the clinical activity of rituximab given its individual and cooperative effects on Fc gamma RIIa- and Fc gamma RIIIa-expressing cells. A phase II clinical study combining GM-CSF and rituximab was initiated in patients with relapsed follicular lymphoma (FL) to determine the clinical and biologic responses, as well as safety of the combination.


Thirty three patients with relapsed FL were treated with GM-CSF 5 microg/kg/d on days 1 to 8 and rituximab 375 mg/m(2) on day 5 of each 21-day cycle for four cycles. Clinical response and tolerability were examined according to international criteria. Biologic monitoring included evaluation of immune cells involved in rituximab activity.


Of 33 evaluated patients, a 70% overall response rate (complete response plus complete response unconfirmed, 45%) and a median progression-free survival (PFS) of 16.5 months were achieved. Outcome was influenced by the quality of response and the Follicular Lymphoma International Prognostic Index (FLIPI), where low- and intermediate-risk FLIPI groups were associated with significantly better PFS. After treatment there was a significant increase in granulocyte and monocyte counts. Examination of dendritic cell response showed an overall increase in plasmacytoid dendritic cells, especially in non-complete response patients, after treatment. Addition of GM-CSF did not impair tolerance to rituximab, and adverse events were rare and mild.


GM-CSF plus rituximab results in high response rates, along with a tolerable safety profile in patients with relapsed or progressive FL. The improved efficacy over rituximab monotherapy may be due to increases seen in monocyte, granulocyte, and dendritic cell populations.

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