Peripheral blood lymphocyte depletion after hepatic arterial 90Yttrium microsphere therapy for hepatocellular carcinoma

Brian I. Carr, Diana M. Metes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The short- and long-term effects of 90Yttrium microspheres therapy for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) on peripheral blood lymphocytes are unknown and were therefore examined. Methods and Materials: Ninety-two HCC patients were enrolled in a 90Yttrium therapy study and routine blood counts were examined as part of standard clinical monitoring. Results: We found an early, profound, and prolonged lymphopenia. In a subsequent cohort of 25 additional HCC patients, prospective flow cytometric immune-monitoring analysis was performed to identify specific changes on distinct lymphocyte subsets (i.e., CD3, CD4, CD8 T, and CD19 B lymphocytes) and NK cells absolute numbers, in addition to the granulocytes and platelets subsets. We found that the pretreatment lymphocyte subset absolute numbers (with the exception of NK cells) had a tendency to be lower compared with healthy control values, but no significant differences were detected between groups. Posttherapy follow-up revealed that overall, all lymphocyte subsets, except for NK cells, were significantly (>50% from pretherapy values), promptly (as early as 24 h) and persistently (up to 30 months) depleted post- 90Yttrium microspheres therapy. In contrast, granulocytes increased rapidly (24 h) to compensate for lymphocyte depletion, and remained increased at 1-year after therapy. We further stratified patients into two groups, according to survival at 1 year. We found that lack of recovery of CD19, CD3, CD8, and especially CD4 T cells was linked to poor patient survival. No fungal or bacterial infections were noted during the 30-month follow-up period. Conclusions: The results show that lymphocytes (and not granulocytes, platelets, or NK cells) are sensitive to hepatic arterial 90Yttrium without associated clinical toxicity, and lack of lymphocyte recovery (possibly leading to dysregulation of adaptive cellular immunity) posttherapy indicates poor survival.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1179-1184
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2012


  • Yttrium
  • HCC
  • Lymphocytes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Radiation
  • Cancer Research


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