Immunomonitoring results of a phase II/III study of malignant ascites patients treated with the trifunctional antibody catumaxomab (anti-EpCAM x anti-CD3)

Cancer Res. 2012 Jan 1;72(1):24-32. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-11-2235. Epub 2011 Nov 1.


Patients with malignant ascites secondary to primary carcinomas benefit from intraperitoneal therapy with the trifunctional antibody catumaxomab (anti-EpCAM × anti-CD3). Here, we report the analysis of peritoneal fluid samples from 258 patients with malignant ascites randomized to catumaxomab or control groups to investigate the molecular effects of catumaxomab treatment. In the catumaxomab group, tumor cell numbers and peritoneal levels of VEGF decreased, whereas the activation status of CD4(+) and CD8(+) T-cell populations increased more than two-fold after treatment. Notably, CD133(+)/EpCAM(+) cancer stem cells vanished from the catumaxomab samples but not from the control samples. In vitro investigations indicated that catumaxomab eliminated tumor cells in a manner associated with release of proinflammatory Th1 cytokines. Together, our findings show that catumaxomab therapy activates peritoneal T cells and eliminates EpCAM(+) tumor cells, establishing a molecular and cellular basis to understand in vivo efficacy within the immunosuppressed malignant ascites tissue microenvironment.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Clinical Trial, Phase III
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Bispecific / therapeutic use*
  • Ascites / drug therapy*
  • Ascites / immunology
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Humans
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Monitoring, Physiologic / methods


  • Antibodies, Bispecific
  • catumaxomab