Biological Effects of Anti-Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor (GM-CSF) Antibody Formation in Patients Treated With GM-CSF (Sargramostim) as Adjuvant Therapy of Melanoma

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We investigated the development of binding and neutralizing antibodies to granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) in patients receiving prolonged therapy with GM-CSF as adjuvant therapy of melanoma and the impact of these antibodies on biological effects.


Fifty-three patients with high-risk melanoma that had been surgically excised were treated with GM-CSF, 125 μg/m2 daily for 14 days every 28 days for 1 year after surgical resection of disease. Serum samples for antibodies to GM-CSF were measured before treatment and on study days 155 and 351. Blood draws for testing biological effects were keyed to GM-CSF administration: days 0 (before), 15 (after 14 d on GM-CSF), 29 (after 14 d off GM-CSF), 155, and 351 (after 14 d on GM-CSF in the sixth and 13th cycle of treatment).


Of 53 patients enrolled, 43 were evaluable for the development of anti-GM-CSF antibodies. Of these, 93% developed binding antibodies and 42% developed both binding and neutralizing antibodies. The increase in the white blood cell count, percent eosinophils, or neopterin levels engendered by GM-CSF administration was abrogated or markedly decreased in patients with neutralizing antibodies but not in patients who developed only binding antibodies.


Ninety-three percent of patients with melanoma treated with GM-CSF as adjuvant therapy develop antibodies to GM-CSF. In those with neutralizing antibodies, a diminution of the biological effects of GM-CSF was observed. The development of neutralizing antibodies might also abrogate the potential clinical benefit of this treatment and should be considered in the design of future clinical trials.

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