Immune-related Adverse Events of Dendritic Cell Vaccination Correlate With Immunologic and Clinical Outcome in Stage III and IV Melanoma Patients

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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to determine the toxicity profile of dendritic cell (DC) vaccination in stage III and IV melanoma patients, and to evaluate whether there is a correlation between side effects and immunologic and clinical outcome. This is a retrospective analysis of 82 stage III and 137 stage IV melanoma patients, vaccinated with monocyte-derived or naturally circulating autologous DCs loaded with tumor-associated antigens gp100 and tyrosinase. Median follow-up time was 54.3 months in stage III patients and 12.9 months in stage IV patients. Treatment-related adverse events occurred in 84% of patients; grade 3 toxicity was present in 3% of patients. Most common adverse events were flu-like symptoms (67%) and injection site reactions (50%), and both correlated with the presence of tetramer-positive CD8+ T cells (both P<0.001). In stage III melanoma patients experiencing flu-like symptoms, median overall survival (OS) was not reached versus 32.3 months in patients without flu-like symptoms (P=0.009); median OS in patients with an injection site reaction was not reached versus 53.7 months in patients without an injection site reaction (P<0.05). In stage IV melanoma patients (primary uveal and mucosal melanomas excluded), median OS in patients with or without flu-like symptoms was 13.1 versus 8.9 months, respectively (P=0.03); median OS in patients with an injection site reaction was 15.7 months versus 9.8 months in patients without an injection site reaction (P=0.003). In conclusion, DC vaccination is safe and tolerable and the occurrence of the immune-related side effects, such as flu-like symptoms and injection site reactions, correlates with immunologic and clinical outcome.

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