Cytokine-induced killer (CIK) cell therapy has recently been used as an adjuvant setting following resection of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), while its benefit remains unclear. This study aimed to evaluate the efficacy of adjuvant CIK application in solitary HCC patients undergoing curative resection with stratification of microvascular invasion (MVI).
In total, specimens and data from 307 solitary HCC patients undergoing curative resection between January 2007 and December 2010 were included. Of these, 102 patients received CIK treatment after surgery (CIK group), whereas 205 patients did not (control group). Pathological evaluation was used to retrospectively determine MVI status. The CIK group had 60 MVI-negative and 42 MVI-positive patients, while the numbers in control group were 124 and 81. Kaplan-Meier and Cox regression analyses were used to validate possible effects of CIK treatment on disease free survival (DFS) and overall survival (OS) as appropriate.
For all patients, the CIK group exhibited significantly higher OS than the control group (log-rank test; PDFS = 0.055, POS = 0.020). Further analysis based on MVI stratification showed that for patients with MVI, DFS and OS did not differ between the 2 groups (PDFS = 0.439, POS = 0.374). For patients without MVI, the CIK group exhibited better DFS and OS than the control group (PDFS = 0.042, POS = 0.007), and multivariate analyses demonstrated that CIK treatment was an independent prognostic factor both for DFS and OS.
For solitary HCC, CIK cell therapy after curative resection improves DFS and OS for patients without MVI, but has no statistically significant survival benefit for patients with MVI.