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Korean J Pediatr Hematol Oncol. 2000 Apr;7(1):82-91. Korean. Original Article.
Kim MK , Lyu CJ , Park SH , Cho HS , Yang CH , Kim HM , Kang SH , Kim KY .
Department of Pediatrics and Medicine, Ajou University College of Medicine, Korea.
Department of Pediatrics, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Korea.
Department of Pediatrics, Hallym University College of Medicine, Korea.
Department of Pediatrics, Yonsei University Wonjoo College of Medicine, Korea.
Department of Pediatrics, Pochun Cha Medical University, Korea, Korea.

PURPOSE: Interleukin-2 (IL-2) exerts anti-cancer effect by increasing NK cell activity when the tumor burden is low. Earlier study conducted with high dose intravenous IL-2 exhibited significant toxicities such as capillary leak syndrome, fever, rash, etc. This study was designed to study the effect of low dose IL-2 in children after autologous PBSCT when the cancer is at minimal level. METHODS: A total of 12 patients (6 AML, 6 NBL) were enrolled in this study from May 1997 to Oct 1999. The age of the patients was between 0.9~15 yr (Median age: 4.35 yr). The AML patients were treated with AML-BFM-87 (5 cases) or CCG-2891 (1 case) protocol, and all the patients underwent autologous PBSCT at CR1. The NBL patients were treated with CCG-3891 (4 cases) or '6 in 1' (2 cases) protocol, and they had operation for residual tumor before PBSCT. The conditioning regimen for AML patients was busulfan (16 mg/kg) and cyclophosphamide (120 mg/kg) (4 cases) or BCVAC (2 cases), while NBL patients were conditioned with carboplatin (1200 mg/m2), etoposide (800 mg/m2) and melphalan (180 mg/m2). Infused stem cell dose was MNC: (4.5+/-1.7) 108/kg, CD34 : (8.6+/-3.2) 106/kg. IL-2 (Proleukin , Chiron) was started subcutaneously after neutrophil engraftment (ANC<500/mm3) with the dose of 3~5 MU/m2 for the first 2 days, 1MU/m2 for the subsequent 12 days, then followed by 14 days of rest. IL-2 was restarted with the same regimen for more than 6 cycles as outpatient. The CBC, total eosinophil count (TEC) and T lymphocyte subsets were checked before and after IL-2 therapy. RESULTS: The mean neutrophil engraftment was achieved on 12.0+/-3.4 days, and mean platelet recovery to more than 50,000/mm3 was achieved on 23.7+/-10.3 days. Common toxicities associated with IL-2 were fever and mild tenderness on injection site, but there was no need to discontinue IL-2. A total of 75 cycles of IL-2 therapy was given. During follow-up for 8~30 months (median 21 months), only 1 relapse occurred until now (neuroblastoma stage IV). All parameters of T lymphocyte subsets increased after IL-2 therapy. TEC increased in mean value after IL-2 and it was statistically significant (P<0.05). The absolute count of CD4 and CD8 was significantly increased (CD4 : 410 to 640, P<0.005, CD8 : 720 to 980, P<0.05). CD4/CD8 ratio remained reversed (<1) throughout the course of IL-2 in most patients. The total NK cell count was increased from 510 to 820 (P<0.005). CONCLUSION: Low dose IL-2 therapy was well tolerated as OPD basis and there was a significant change in T lymphocyte subsets, especially in NK cell count. Even though the follow up duration was short, the high relapse free survival indicates the beneficial effect of low dose IL-2. In the setting of low tumor burden, such as after autologous PBSCT, low dose subcutaneous IL-2 seems to provide effective anti-cancer effect.

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