Reduction of toxicity of interleukin-2 and lymphokine-activated killer cells in humans by the administration of corticosteroids

J. T. Vetto, M. Z. Papa, M. T. Lotze, A. E. Chang, S. A. Rosenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In order to evaluate the efficacy of dexamethasone (dex) in reducing the toxicity of therapy with lymphokine-activated killer (LAK) cells and interleukin-2 (IL-2) we treated six patients receiving this form of immunotherapy with intravenous (IV) dex, 4 mg every six hours. Compared with a control group of 27 patients not receiving dex with their immunotherapy, these corticosteroid-treated patients were able to tolerate the administration of more IL-2, yet experienced significantly less toxicity. Dyspnea, confusion, fever, mean peak serum creatinine, and bilirubin levels during treatment were significantly reduced in corticosteroid-treated patients, with a corresponding decrease in pruritis in this group as well. Overall weight gain was not different between groups, although a curtailment of weight gain temporally related to dex treatment was seen in some patients. Hematologic side effects, including anemia, eosinophilia, and thrombocytopenia, were not reduced by dex. These results suggest that dex can inhibit at least some of the toxic side effects of LAK cell and IL-2 therapy. Because of the concern that the therapeutic effect may also be abrogated, future studies combining corticosteroids with this form of immunotherapy should be undertaken with caution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)496-503
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1987


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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