Influence of low-dose beta-interferon on natural killer cell activity in breast cancer patients subjected to chemotherapy

Lucio Tentori, Maria Pia Fuggetta, Stefania D'Atri, Angelo Aquino, Corrado Nunziata, Mario Roselli, Paolo Ballatore, Enzo Bonmassar, Liana De Vecchis

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The present study was designed to test whether immunomodulating doses of human beta-interferon would affect the natural cell-mediated cytotoxic function in untreated breast cancer patients or in those subjected to antitumor therapy. Analyses were performed on 11 breast cancer patients, 3 at stage 1 and 8 at stage 2, the latter being subjected to cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, 5-Fluorouracil (CMF) adjuvant chemotherapy. Five patients treated with CMF and 3 patients not subjected to adjuvant chemotherapy, received human beta-interferon (IF, 2×106 IU/patient, i.m.), on days 0,7, and 15 for 6 cycles of 31 days each. The natural killer (NK) activity (NKA) of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (MNC) was tested 24 and 48 h after low-dose IF administration. The results of NKA determinations carried out for the 6 cycles of treatment show that (1) chemotherapy alone depressed NKA; (2) IF alone increased NKA in stage 1 patients not treated with CMF; (3) IF antagonized the depressive activity of CMF on NK function and significantly augumented NKA in the case of low "basal" cytotoxic activity detectable in MNC collected before IF administration. Parallel in vitro studies showed that the inhibitory effect on NKA provoked by CMF is due to cyclophosphamide present in the association and is effectively antagonized by IF. These data provide rational bases for using IF in immunochemotherapy regimens, when tumor cells are supposed to be susceptible to host control by the natural resistance function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-91
Number of pages6
JournalCancer Immunology, Immunotherapy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1987


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Immunology
  • Cancer Research

Cite this

Tentori, L., Fuggetta, M. P., D'Atri, S., Aquino, A., Nunziata, C., Roselli, M., Ballatore, P., Bonmassar, E., & De Vecchis, L. (1987). Influence of low-dose beta-interferon on natural killer cell activity in breast cancer patients subjected to chemotherapy. Cancer Immunology, Immunotherapy, 24(1), 86-91.