Long-term response of recurrent respiratory papillomatosis to treatment with lymphoblastoid interferon alfa-N1. Papilloma Study Group

N Engl J Med. 1991 Aug 29;325(9):613-7. doi: 10.1056/NEJM199108293250904.


Background: We earlier reported that patients with recurrent respiratory papillomatosis responded to six months of treatment with lymphoblastoid interferon alfa-n1. Because another study of patients treated for one year with leukocyte interferon alfa-n3 found that the growth rate of papillomas was slowed in the first six months but returned to base line during months 7 through 12 despite persistent interferon treatment, we now report the long-term results in our original study patients who were followed for a median of four years after the original one-year crossover study.

Methods: After the patients in our study had completed the first study year, their physicians could continue or recommence treatment with lymphoblastoid interferon alfa-n1 in a dose of either 2 MU per square meter of body-surface area per day or 4 MU per square meter every other day. The extent of disease was measured by endoscopy when clinically indicated.

Results: Data on late-follow-up were obtained for 60 of the 66 patients. There were 22 complete remissions and 25 partial remissions; 13 patients had no response. The median duration of the complete remissions was 550 days, and 15 patients continued to be in complete remission. The median duration of partial remissions was 400 days and seven patients were still in partial remission. Thirteen of 28 patients responded to a second course of interferon after an interruption in treatment of at least one month. The rate of response in the 11 of 53 patients who had neutralizing antibody to interferon was the same as in the patients without the antibody.

Conclusions: Patients with severe recurrent respiratory papillomatosis may have a sustained or repeated response to treatment with lymphoblastoid interferon alfa-n1. We recommend that patients with recurrent respiratory papillomatosis who require surgery every two to three months be given a six-month trial of interferon alfa-n1.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Antibodies / blood
  • Bronchial Neoplasms / therapy
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Interferon Type I / administration & dosage
  • Interferon Type I / adverse effects
  • Interferon Type I / immunology
  • Interferon Type I / therapeutic use*
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Papilloma / therapy*
  • Remission Induction
  • Respiratory Tract Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Tracheal Neoplasms / therapy


  • Antibodies
  • Interferon Type I