Purpose: It has been reported that Th2 cytokines down-regulate antitumor immunity, while activation of type 1 T cells promotes antitumor immunity. However, the immunological features of liver cirrhosis (LC) patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (aHCC) treated by intra-arterial chemotherapy are still unclear. The aim of this study was to assess the influence of intra-arterial combination chemotherapy on the Th1/Th2 balance in LC patients with aHCC.
Methods: Twenty-one adult Japanese LC patients with aHCC were treated by intra-arterial combination chemotherapy. The control group was composed of 20 adult Japanese patients with chronic hepatitis C diagnosed from examination of liver biopsy specimens. All control patients were over 55 years old and were stage 1 according to the fibrosis score of Desment.
Results: Thirteen of the 21 aHCC patients (group R) showed an objective response, but the other 8 patients (group N) showed no response. There were no significant differences of Th1 cells between group R and group N either before or after chemotherapy. Although there was no significant difference from group R, group N had a significantly higher percentage of Th2 cells than the control group both before and after chemotherapy (p < 0.05 by Tukey's test).
Conclusions: These results indicate that the Th1/Th2 balance might be a useful indicator of the effect of intra-arterial combination chemotherapy in LC patients with aHCC. Inhibition of an increase of Th2 cells might be important for the efficacy of intra-arterial chemotherapy in such patients.