Twelve homosexual patients with Kaposi's sarcoma associated with the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) were treated with a preparation of purified human lymphoblastoid interferon (Wellferon [Burroughs Wellcome, Research Triangle Park, NC]). They were given a dose of 20 x 106 U/m2 intramuscularly daily for approximately two months. Responders continued their treatment on a maintenance schedule of 20 x 106 U/m2 three times a week. Four patients experienced complete remissions, and four experienced partial remissions that resulted in a total response rate of 67%. The median duration of treatment was 14 weeks (7 to 28+ weeks), and the median response duration was 28+ weeks (19 to 29+ weeks). Of the four patients in complete remission, one relapsed at 25 weeks and one at 26 weeks; the other two remained in complete remission of 28 and 29 weeks. The clinical toxicity consisted of chills, fever, fatigue, and asthenia. Hematologic toxicity was similar to that previously described for other preparations of α-interferon and consisted of moderate leukopenia and thrombocytopenia. Asthenia, a condition present in all 12 patients, was severe in 50%. A minimal tumor burden, the absence of circulating interferon before treatment, and a performance status of ≥90% on the Karnofsky scale were related to an improved response rate. Measurement of immunologic parameters showed significant declines in the already impaired T cell levels, lymphocyte blastogenic response to concanavalin A, monocyte-mediated antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity, and monocyte-adherence. Activation of natural killer cells was not noted, and no life-threatening infections occurred during treatment. These data suggest that human lymphoblastoid interferon is an active agent in the treatment of Kaposi's sarcoma, and its use warrants further study in a large number of patients.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research