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Immune effects of escalating doses of granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor added to a fixed, low-dose, inpatient interleukin-2 regimen: a randomized phase I trial in patients with metastatic melanoma and renal cell carcinoma.

Author(s): Smith II JW, Kurt RA, Baher AG, Denman S, Justice L, Doran T, Gilbert M, Alvord WG, Urba WJ

Affiliation(s): Robert W. Franz Cancer Research Center, Earle A Chiles Research Institute, Providence Portland Medical Center, Oregon, USA.

Publication date & source: 2003-03, J Immunother., 26(2):130-8.

Publication type: Clinical Trial; Clinical Trial, Phase I; Randomized Controlled Trial

Previous studies in cancer patients demonstrated that granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) upregulated the interleukin (IL)-2 receptor on T lymphocytes and monocytes suggesting that subsequently administered IL-2 would produce greater immune effects. The authors treated 21 patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma and melanoma on a randomized phase I study to test this hypothesis. All 21 patients received a fixed dose of IL-2 (72,000 IU/kg every 8 hours for 5 days) administered intravenously as an inpatient. Patients were randomized to receive IL-2 alone or in combination with GM-CSF at a dose of 125 or 250 mcg/m /d (Sargramostim; Immunex Corporation, WA, U.S.A.) daily for 7 days by subcutaneous injection starting on day 1, the day before IL-2 treatment. The results from this study demonstrated that GM-CSF did not worsen the toxicities produced by IL-2 alone. Grade 3 confusion occurred in four patients, three who received IL-2 alone. No partial or complete tumor responses were seen. Assays of serum soluble IL-2 receptor (sIL2R) and neopterin, measures of T cell and monocyte activation, respectively, demonstrated a significant increase in sIL2R but not neopterin, 24 hours after the first dose of GM-CSF. In combination with IL-2, the higher dose of GM-CSF (250 mcg/m ) produced higher sIL2R levels on days 3 and 7 than the 125-mcg/m dose of GM-CSF or IL-2 alone. Although neopterin levels did not increase after 1 day of GM-CSF, the addition of IL-2 resulted in a significantly increased neopterin level on day 3 at the higher dose of GM-CSF. On day 7, neopterin levels in all three groups were similarly increased over baseline. Ten days after treatment, neopterin levels had returned to normal, but sIL2R levels remained markedly increased (12 fold) over baseline in the higher GM-CSF dose group. The authors conclude that 1) monocyte activation was not significantly enhanced by 1 day of GM-CSF treatment; 2) the 250-mcg/m GM-CSF dose plus IL-2 produced superior T cell activation compared with a lower dose of GM-CSF plus IL-2 or to IL-2 alone; and 3) the combination of GM-CSF and IL-2 was safe and tolerable but was not associated with any clinical responses.

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