Phase II Trial of Recombinant Human Interleukin-4 in Patients with Disseminated Malignant Melanoma: A Southwest Oncology Group Study

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Malignant melanoma is increasing in incidence in this country. Metastatic disease generally responds poorly to most chemotherapy drugs. Immunologic and biologic agents have shown some activity in this disease. Interleukin 4 (IL-4) is a cytokine produced by activated T-lymphocytes with pluripotent activities including growth inhibition of various tumor cell lines in vitro and immune-mediated tumor growth inhibition in in vivo animal tumor models. In this phase II trial, patients with advanced malignant melanoma with no prior systemic therapy for metastatic disease and Southwest Oncology Group performance status 0–1 were treated with recombinant human IL-4 at a dose of 5 μg/kg/day by daily subcutaneous injection days 1–28 followed by a 7-day rest period, after which the cycle was repeated. Thirty-six patients were registered to this study. Two patients were ineligible by study criteria. Among the 34 eligible patients, there was I complete response, 0 partial responses, 2 stable/no responses, 27 increasing disease/progression, I early death, and 3 patients whose assessment was inadequate to determine response. The overall estimated response rate was 3% (1 of 34) with a 95% confidence interval 0.1–15%. The duration of the complete response is 421+ days. Thirty-one of the 34 eligible patients have died. The estimated median survival is 6 months (95% confidence interval 4—9 months). The most common toxicities were elevated liver function tests, nausea/vomiting/diarrhea, malaise/fatigue, edema, headache, myalgias/arhrulgias, and fever/chills. Despite promising preclinical growth inhibitory and immunomodulatory effects, IL-4 in this dose and schedule showed only low antitumor activity. Alternative methods and routes of administration or combinations of IL-4 with other cytokines might produce greater antitumor effects.

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