Objective: To evaluate the efficacy of chemotherapy in combination with autologous cytokine induced killer cells for the treatment of acute leukemia.
Methods: 41 patients with acute leukemia were evaluated; complete remission was achieved in these patients for more than 6 months duration after chemotherapy. 19 patients who received autologous cytokine induced killer (CIK) cells followed by chemotherapy constituted a CIK group and 22 patients who received the same term of chemotherapy only constituted a control group. Preparation of CIK cells was as follows: Peripheral blood mononuclear cells from the patient were collected by using blood cell separator, then cultured in the medium containing monoclonal antibody against CD(3), interleukin-2 and interferon gamma for about 10 days, and finally infused back to the patient on the first day after chemotherapy. The programs of chemotherapy in the two groups were similar.
Results: 19 patients in the CIK group received a total of 52 courses of CIK cells. 8 patients received 4 courses, 2 patients 3 courses, 5 patients 2 courses and 4 patients one course of treatment. The numbers of transfused CIK cells per patient were (14.2 +/- 8.5) x 10(9)/L; (2.2 approximately 30.0) x 10(9)/L (Mean +/- s; range) in one course of treatment. Continuous complete remission (CCR) rate was 73.4% in the CIK group versus 27.3% in the control group in a follow up of 4 years (P < 0.005). ALL patients who received >or= 3 courses of treatment in the CIK group have remained in CCR till the time of this study; the median time of CCR were 43 months (23 - 52 months). 4 of the 9 patients who received < 3 courses of CIK treatment relapsed after CR by 43, 17, 13 and 9 months respectively.
Conclusions: CCR rate was higher in patients with chemotherapy plus CIK cells for acute leukemia than in patients with chemotherapy alone. In the CIK group; the efficacy of therapy patients who received >or= 3 courses of treatment was better than that in patients who received < 3 courses of treatment.