Results of a phase II trial of oral bexarotene (Targretin) combined with interferon alfa-2b (Intron-A) for patients with cutaneous T-cell lymphoma

Cancer. 2007 May 1;109(9):1799-803. doi: 10.1002/cncr.22596.


Background: Bexarotene is one of the most active single agents for the treatment of recurring or refractory cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL). Interferon alfa has also been used for many years as an effective treatment for this disease. The results in recent case reports of the combination of bexarotene and interferon alfa have been promising. Based on more extensive results reported with the combination of other retinoids with interferon alfa, the present study attempted to determine the response rate, response duration, and safety of bexarotene (Targretin capsules, Ligand Pharmaceuticals, San Diego, Calif) alone and then with the addition of interferon alfa-2b (Intron-A, Schering-Plough, Kenilworth, NJ).

Methods: Patients with biopsy-proven CTCL, TNM stages IB, IIA, IIB-IV, were treated with oral bexarotene 300 mg/m2/day for at least 8 weeks. If a complete response was not seen after 8 weeks, interferon alfa-2b 3 million units (MU) subcutaneously was added, and increased to 5 MU if tolerated, 3 times a week.

Results: A total of 22 patients were enrolled at 5 sites, and 18 patients were assessable for response. Overall response rate for combined bexarotene and interferon alfa was 39% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 17%-64%), including 1 patient with a clinical complete response, 6 patients with partial response, 3 patients with stable disease, and 8 patients with progressive disease. Three partial responses were first noted during the bexarotene-alone phase. Adverse events were generally manageable, and only 1 patient was withdrawn from study for hypertriglyceridemia.

Conclusions: The addition of interferon alfa-2b did not increase the response rate that would have been expected with bexarotene alone.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Bexarotene
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interferon alpha-2
  • Interferon-alpha / administration & dosage
  • Interferon-alpha / adverse effects
  • Lymphoma, T-Cell, Cutaneous / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Skin Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Tetrahydronaphthalenes / administration & dosage
  • Tetrahydronaphthalenes / adverse effects
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Interferon alpha-2
  • Interferon-alpha
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Tetrahydronaphthalenes
  • Bexarotene