Send to

Choose Destination
Medicine (Baltimore). 2016 Sep;95(39):e4909. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000004909.

In vivo expansion and activation of γδ T cells as immunotherapy for refractory neuroblastoma: A phase 1 study.

Author information

aDepartment of Pediatrics bDepartment of Medicine, Division of Hematology and Oncology cDepartment of Pathology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama.



CD3+ γδ+ T cells comprise 2% to 5% of circulating T cells with Vγ9Vδ2+ cells the dominant circulating subtype. Vγ9Vδ2+ cells recognize non-peptide phosphoantigens and stress-associated NKG2D ligands expressed on malignant cells. Strategies that incorporate the tumoricidal properties of γδ T cells represent a promising immunotherapeutic strategy for treatment of solid malignancies including neuroblastoma (NB). In this prospective, non-randomized Phase I trial, we assessed whether circulating Vγ9Vδ2+ cells could be safely expanded using intravenous ZOL (Zoledronate [Zometa]) and subcutaneous Interleukin-2 (IL-2) in patients with refractory NB.


Patients 2 to 21 years of age with refractory neuroblastoma with no known curative therapeutic options received ZOL on day 1, and IL-2 on days 1 to 5 and 15 to 19 of each 28-day cycle (n = 4). Lymphocyte immunophenotyping was assessed weekly. Immunophenotyping studies from the treatment group were compared with healthy pediatric controls (n = 16; range, 5y-15y) and of untreated NB disease controls (n = 9; range, 4m-18y).


Treatment was well tolerated with no unexpected grade 3 and 4 toxicities. Lymphocyte subset counts did not differ significantly between volunteers and disease controls with the exception of γδ+ T cell counts that were significantly higher in healthy volunteers (212 + 93 vs. 89 + 42, P = 0.05). Study patients showed increases in circulating γδ+ T cell count (3-10 fold) after the first week, increasing into the range seen in healthy volunteers (125 + 37, P = 0.1940). Interestingly, all ZOL + IL-2 treated patients showed significant increases in CD3+CD4+CD27CD127 T cells that rose weekly in 2 patients throughout the 4 weeks of observation (maximum 41% and 24% of total CD3+CD4+ T cells, respectively).


In summary, combined ZOL and IL-2 is well tolerated and restored γδ+ T cell counts to the normal range with a moderate expansion of Natural Killer cells. Progressive increases in circulating CD4+ T cells with a regulatory phenotype cells may offset beneficial effects of this therapy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wolters Kluwer Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center