The incidence of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL), the fifth most common malignancy in the United States, has increased over 70% in the last 30 years. Fifty percent to 75% of patients with low-grade or follicular NHL respond to rituximab therapy. However, responses are generally of limited duration, and complete responses are rare. Preclinical work suggests that human recombinant interleukin-2 (rIL-2; aldesleukin, Proleukin) enhances rituximab efficacy. Antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) is an important mechanism of action of rituximab. rIL-2 induces expansion and activation of Fc receptor (FcR)-bearing cells, thereby enhancing ADCC. Therefore, a large, multicenter phase 2 trial to assess the effects of rIL-2 on rituximab therapy in patients with rituxumab-refractory low-grade NHL was conducted.
The combination of rituximab and rIL-2 was studied in 57 patients with rituximab-refractory low-grade NHL (i.e., patients must have received a single-agent course of rituximab and showed no tumor response, or had a response lasting <6 months). I.V. rituximab was given at 375 mg/m(2) (weeks 1-4). S.C. rIL-2 was given thrice a week at 14 MIU (weeks 2-5) and at 10 MIU (weeks 6-9).
Rituximab plus rIL-2 combination therapy was safe and generally well tolerated, but responses were low. Fifty-seven patients were enrolled with 54 evaluable for response; however, only five responses (one complete and four partial) were observed. Correlative data indicate that rIL-2 expanded FcR-bearing cells and enhanced ADCC. However, other factors, such as FcgammaR polymorphisms in patients refractory to single-agent rituxumab and heterogeneous tumor biology, may have influenced the lack of clinical efficacy seen with this combination therapy.
rIL-2 expands FcR-bearing cellular subsets in vivo and enhances in vitro ADCC of rituxumab. However, these findings do not directly translate into meaningful clinical benefit for patients with rituxumab-refractory NHL.
Clinical Cancer Research 01/2007; 12(23):7046-53. DOI:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-06-1571 · 8.19 Impact Factor