Regional Administration of Recombinant Tumour Necrosis Factor-α in Cancer, with Special Reference to Melanoma

Lejeune, F.; Liénard, D.; Eggermont, A.
March 1998
BioDrugs;1998, Vol. 9 Issue 3, p211
Academic Journal
Recombinant tumour necrosis factor-α (rTNFα) possesses the unique property of activating and selectively destroying the tumour-associated microvasculature. Systemic application of rTNFα has shown that the maximum tolerated dose (MTD) is 10 times lower than the efficient dose in animals. The main toxicity corresponds to the systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS), with a decrease of vascular resistance and hypotension. We found that it is possible to administer rTNFα at 10 times the MTD in an isolated limb perfusion system, using a heart-lung machine, for advanced melanoma and sarcoma of the limbs. Our results, using the combination of high dose rTNFα, interferon-γ and melphalan (TIM), produced an overall objective response rate of 100% in 2 successive studies on melanoma, with 90% and 78% complete response, respectively. In sarcoma, there was an overall response rate of 64%, with 36% complete response. Angiographic and immunohistological studies demonstrated selective and early damage of the tumour-associated microvasculature, preceded by upregulation of adhesion molecules and intratumoural leak of von Willebrand factor. Tumour invasion by platelets and, in some cases, by polymorphonuclear cells, appeared within hours after the application of rTNFα, long before the lysis of the tumour. Systemic changes after rTNFα treatment included the production of soluble TNFα receptors and of interleukin-6. A typical acute phase reaction was observed within 3 days, with increase of C-reactive protein parallelled by an increase of tenascin-C. A selective effect on intratumoural endothelial cells seems to be involved in the mechanism of the impressive antitumour effect of rTNFα, but the role of acute phase protein production is not fully understood. In selected cases of melanoma, specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes were increased after perfusion.


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