Thymosin in cancer patients: in vitro effects and correlations with clinical response to thymosin immunotherapy

Cancer Treat Rep. 1978 Nov;62(11):1787-90.


Studies on the effect of thymosin on T-cell levels in vitro among normal persons and cancer patients show that, in general, T-cell levels increase after incubation with thymosin in populations with low initial T-cell levels while the levels decrease in populations with high initial T-cell levels. In patients with small cell carcinoma of the lung receiving intensive chemotherapy also randomized to receive thymosin at a dose of 60 mg/m2, thymosin at a dose of 20 mg/m2, or placebo twice weekly, increased survival occurred in patients receiving the thymosin dose of 60 mg/m2. The increase in survival was greatest in patients with low pretreatment T-cell and alpha2HS-glycoprotein levels. These observations suggest that the cancer patients most likely to benefit therapeutically from adjuvant treatment with thymosin are those with relatively low initial T-cell levels and other parameters of cellular immunity.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / blood
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / immunology
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Glycoproteins / blood
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular / drug effects
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Lung Neoplasms / blood
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Lung Neoplasms / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / drug effects*
  • Thymosin / pharmacology*
  • Thymus Hormones / pharmacology*


  • Glycoproteins
  • Thymus Hormones
  • Thymosin