Cell therapy of stage IV nasopharyngeal carcinoma with autologous Epstein-Barr virus-targeted cytotoxic T lymphocytes

Patrizia Comoli, Paolo Pedrazzoli, Rita Maccario, Sabrina Basso, Ornella Carminati, Massimo Labirio, Roberta Schiavo, Simona Secondino, Chiara Frasson, Cesare Perotti, Mauro Moroni, Franco Locatelli, Salvatore Siena

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is an Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) -related malignancy expressing EBV antigens that are possible targets of cell therapy, including latent membrane protein 2 (LMP2). We conducted a clinical trial of EBV-targeted cell therapy with autologous virus-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) for NPC refractory to conventional treatments. Patients and Methods: Ten patients with EBV-related stage IV NPC in progression after conventional radiotherapy and chemotherapy received intravenously autologous EBV-specific CTLs reactivated and expanded ex vivo from peripheral blood lymphocytes through stimulation with EBV-transformed autologous B-lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCL). Toxicity, specific cellular immune responses, and clinical tumor responses were evaluated. Results: EBV-specific CTLs could be generated in all patients and were predominantly CD3+/CD8+ T lymphocytes displaying specific killing of autologous EBV-LCL, autologous NPC cells as well as autologous targets bearing the EBV antigen LMP2. Patients received two to 23 infusions of EBV-specific CTLs that were well tolerated with the exception of grade 1 to 2 inflammatory reactions at the tumor site in two cases. Control of disease progression was obtained in six of 10 patients (two with partial response and four with stable disease). Analysis of interferon-γ-producing cells demonstrated an increased frequency of EBV-specific immunity, with appearance of LMP2-specific responses in four patients, of whom three had clinical benefit. Conclusion: Cell therapy with EBV-targeted autologous CTLs is safe, induces LMP-2-specific immunologic responses, and is associated with objective responses and control of disease progression in patients with stage IV NPC resistant to conventional treatments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8942-8949
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number35
Publication statusPublished - 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology

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