Survivin-specific T-cell reactivity correlates with tumor response and patient survival: a phase-II peptide vaccination trial in metastatic melanoma

Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2012 Nov;61(11):2091-103. doi: 10.1007/s00262-012-1266-9. Epub 2012 May 8.


Background: Therapeutic vaccination directed to induce an anti-tumoral T-cell response is a field of extensive investigation in the treatment of melanoma. However, many vaccination trials in melanoma failed to demonstrate a correlation between the vaccine-specific immune response and therapy outcome. This has been mainly attributed to immune escape by antigen loss, rendering us in the need of new vaccination targets.

Patients and methods: This phase-II trial investigated a peptide vaccination against survivin, an oncogenic inhibitor-of-apoptosis protein crucial for the survival of tumor cells, in HLA-A1/-A2/-B35-positive patients with treatment-refractory stage-IV metastatic melanoma. The study endpoints were survivin-specific T-cell reactivity (SSTR), safety, response, and survival (OS).

Results: Sixty-one patients (ITT) received vaccination therapy using three different regimens. 55 patients (PP) were evaluable for response and survival, and 41/55 for SSTR. Patients achieving progression arrest (CR + PR + SD) more often showed SSTRs than patients with disease progression (p = 0.0008). Patients presenting SSTRs revealed a prolonged OS (median 19.6 vs. 8.6 months; p = 0.0077); multivariate analysis demonstrated SSTR as an independent predictor of survival (p = 0.013). The induction of SSTRs was associated with gender (female vs. male; p = 0.014) and disease stage (M1a/b vs. M1c; p = 0.010), but not with patient age, HLA type, performance status, or vaccination regimen.

Conclusion: Survivin-specific T-cell reactivities strongly correlate with tumor response and patient survival, indicating that vaccination with survivin-derived peptides is a promising treatment strategy in melanoma.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cancer Vaccines / immunology
  • Cancer Vaccines / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • HLA-A1 Antigen / immunology
  • HLA-A2 Antigen / immunology
  • HLA-B35 Antigen / immunology
  • Humans
  • Inhibitor of Apoptosis Proteins / immunology*
  • Male
  • Melanoma / immunology
  • Melanoma / mortality
  • Melanoma / secondary
  • Melanoma / therapy*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Peptides / immunology
  • Sex Factors
  • Skin Neoplasms / immunology
  • Skin Neoplasms / mortality
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology
  • Skin Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Survivin
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vaccines, Subunit / therapeutic use


  • BIRC5 protein, human
  • Cancer Vaccines
  • HLA-A1 Antigen
  • HLA-A2 Antigen
  • HLA-B35 Antigen
  • Inhibitor of Apoptosis Proteins
  • Peptides
  • Survivin
  • Vaccines, Subunit