Purpose: Fludarabine and cyclophosphamide is an effective combination but increases the risk of opportunistic infections due to depressed lymphocyte counts. In an attempt to preserve CD4 counts, we conducted a phase I, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of recombinant interleukin-2 (IL-2) added to fludarabine and cyclophosphamide in patients with treatment-naive indolent lymphomas or chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Experimental Design: Subcutaneous IL-2 (days 1-21 of each 28-day cycle) was combined with cyclophosphamide (600 mg/m2, day 8) and fludarabine (20 mg/m2, days 8-12) at four dose levels: 0.8, 1.0, 1.2, and 1.4 × 106 IU/m 2/d. IL-2 dose was escalated in cohorts of four to six patients, with one patient per cohort receiving placebo. Results: Twenty-three patients, median age 50, were enrolled, of whom 30% had chronic lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocytic lymphoma and 52% had follicular lymphomas. The combination was generally well tolerated, with mainly hematologic toxicities. CD4 counts typically declined substantially during the early weeks of treatment and remained suppressed for months afterward. In the 18 evaluable patients who received IL-2, the mean absolute CD4 count was 999 cells/μL (range, 97-3,776) pretreatment, 379 cells/μL (range, 54-2,599) at day 14, and 98 cells/μL (range, 17-291) at end of treatment. In longitudinal linear models, the changes in CD4 counts were not significantly different across IL-2 dose levels. Conclusions:The addition of low-dose IL-2 to fludarabine and cyclophosphamide does not seem immunoprotective. New approaches are needed to reduce the cellular immunosuppression and infectious complications associated with purine analogues.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research