The role of granulocyte-macrophage-colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) in the supportive care of cancer patients has been evaluated with promising results. More recently, GM-CSF has been added to regimens for the mobilization of hematopoietic progenitor cells. An expanding role for GM-CSF in regulating immune responses has been recognized based upon its activity on the development and maturation of antigen presenting cells and its capability for skewing the immune system toward Th1-type responses. GM-CSF has been shown to preferentially enhance both the numbers and activity of type 1 dendritic cells (DC1), the subsets of dendritic cells responsible for initiating cytotoxic immune responses. The increase in DC1 content and activity following local and systemic GM-CSF administration support a role for GM-CSF as an immune stimulant and vaccine adjuvant in cancer patients. GM-CSF has shown clinical activity as an immune stimulant in tumor cell and dendritic cell vaccines, and may increase antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity. The successful use of myeloid acting cytokines to enhance anti-tumor responses will likely require the utilization of GM-CSF in combination with cytotoxic or other targeted therapies.
Keywords: G-CSF; GM-CSF; cancer; hematopoietic cytokines.