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Authors Luo Y, Chen X, Downs TM, DeWolf WC, O'Donnell MA
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Journal J. Immunol. Volume: 162 Issue: 4 Pages: 2399-405
Publish Date 1999 Feb 15
PubMed ID 9973521

Combination therapy with intravesical bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) plus IFN-alpha for superficial bladder cancer has been demonstrated to be more effective than either single agent alone in animal studies and of suggested greater efficacy in clinical studies. However, the mechanism by which IFN-alpha enhances BCG-mediated antitumor activity is poorly understood. Using PBMCs from bladder cancer patients, IFN-alpha was found to substantially enhance the efficacy of BCG to induce IFN-gamma production. Among 34 patients tested, 80% showed >4-fold increase. This effect of IFN-alpha was observed in both initial and memory responses to BCG. In addition, IFN-alpha up-regulated BCG-induced IL-12 and TNF-alpha and down-regulated BCG-induced IL-10. Neutralizing endogenous IL-10 or adding exogenous IL-12 provided further synergy for IFN-gamma production. In clinical practice, intravesical IFN-alpha 2B (50 million units (MU)/dose) was observed to accelerate urinary IFN-gamma production to low-dose BCG (one-tenth or one-third of a full dose) in patients treated with combination therapy compared with BCG alone. These results suggest that IFN-alpha is a potent BCG enhancer that polarizes the BCG-induced immune response toward the cellular immune pathway by promoting Th1 cytokine expression and reducing Th2 cytokine expression. This study provides an immunological basis for future rational use of IFN-alpha in conjunction with intravesical BCG for bladder cancer immunotherapy. Copyright © 2018 The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System