Breast Cancer

Interleukin-2-activated hematopoietic stem cell transplantation for breast cancer: investigation of dose level with clinical correlates

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Incubating hematopoietic stem cells with IL-2 in vitro for 24 h generates cytotoxic T cells. When infused into patients, these cells may stimulate a graft-versus-tumor (GVT) effect. This clinical trial was designed to assess the ability of IL-2 activated peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC) to reconstitute hematopoiesis, to investigate dose levels and dose-limiting toxicities of IL-2, and to evaluate clinical results and preliminary laboratory effects using a combination of IL-2-activated autologous PBSC followed by IL-2 after transplantation. Sixty-one women with stage II–IV breast cancer were treated. After the administration of carboplatin (200 mg/m2/day for 3 days) and cyclophosphamide (2 g/m2/day for 3 days), patients received autologous PBSC that were cultured in IL-2 for 24 h followed by parenteral administration of IL-2 beginning the day of transplantation. Three escalating doses of IL-2 were evaluated with increasing duration up to 4 weeks. Of the 57 patients receiving IL-2 after tranplantation, 19 patients (33.3%) were unable to complete the planned course of IL-2 therapy due to persistent fevers (n = 9), diarrhea (n = 2), pulmonary capillary leak syndrome (n = 3), development of a rash (n = 1), atrial fibrillation (n = 1), or patient’s request (n = 3). One death occurred during hospitalization. Engraftment of neutrophils occurred on day 11.5 (mean; range 8–21 days) and platelets on day 11.7 (mean; range 7–33 days). The maximal tolerated dose of IL-2 was 6 × 105 IU/m2/day for 4 weeks. Disease-free survival rates for all stages were comparable to current reports in the literature. Preliminary laboratory evaluations include FACScan analysis of the IL-2 activated PBSC demonstrating an increased percentage of CD3+, CD25+, HLA-DR+ T cells. Phenotypically similar cells were present in peripheral blood samples of patients when tested 15 days after transplantation. This study demonstrates successful engraftment with IL-2-activated PBSC after high-dose chemotherapy for women with stage II–IV breast cancer. The regimen is feasible and, although toxicities are common, they are manageable and correlate with increasing dose and duration of IL-2.

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Meehan, K., Verma, U., Cahill, R. et al. Interleukin-2-activated hematopoietic stem cell transplantation for breast cancer: investigation of dose level with clinical correlates. Bone Marrow Transplant 20, 643–651 (1997) doi:10.1038/sj.bmt.1700954

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  • interleukin-2
  • breast cancer
  • stem cell transplantation
  • immunotherapy

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