Targeting human γδ T cells with zoledronate and interleukin-2 for immunotherapy of hormone-refractory prostate cancer

Francesco Dieli, David Vermijlen, Fabio Fulfaro, Nadia Caccamo, Serena Meraviglia, Giuseppe Cicero, Andrew Roberts, Simona Buccheri, Matilde D'Asaro, Nicola Gebbia, Alfredo Salerno, Matthias Eberl, Adrian C. Hayday

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The increasing evidence that γδ T cells have potent antitumor activity suggests their value in immunotherapy, particularly in areas of unmet need such as metastatic carcinoma. To this end, we initiated a phase I clinical trial in metastatic hormone-refractory prostate cancer to examine the feasibility and consequences of using the γδ T-cell agonist zoledronate, either alone or in combination with low-dose interleukin 2 (IL-2), to activate peripheral blood γδ cells. Nine patients were enlisted to each arm. Neither treatment showed appreciable toxicity. Most patients were treated with zoledronate + IL-2, but conversely only two treated with zoledronate displayed a significant long-term shift of peripheral γδ cells toward an activated effector-memory-like state (TEM), producing IFN-γ and perforin. These patients also maintained serum levels of tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis inducing ligand (TRAIL), consistent with a parallel microarray analysis showing that TRAIL is produced by γδ cells activated via the T-cell receptor and IL-2. Moreover, the numbers of TEM γδ cells showed a statistically significant correlation with declining prostate-specific antigen levels and objective clinical outcomes that comprised three instances of partial remission and five of stable disease. By contrast, most patients treated only with zoledronate failed to sustain either γδ cell numbers or serum TRAIL, and showed progressive clinical deterioration. Thus, zoledronate + IL-2 represents a novel, safe, and feasible approach to induce immunologic and clinical responses in patients with metastatic carcinomas, potentially providing a substantially increased window for specific approaches to be administered. Moreover, γδ cell phenotypes and possibly serum TRAIL may constitute novel biomarkers of prognosis upon therapy with zoledronate + IL-2 in metastatic carcinoma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7450-7457
Number of pages8
JournalCancer Research
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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