Adoptive immunotherapy in postoperative hepatocellular carcinoma: a systemic review

PLoS One. 2012;7(8):e42879. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0042879. Epub 2012 Aug 15.


Purpose: The effectiveness of immunotherapy for postoperative hepatocellular carcinoma patients is still controversial. To address this issue, we did a systemic review of the literatures and analyzed the data with emphasis on the recurrence and survival.

Methods: We searched six randomized controlled trials that included adoptive immunotherapy in the postoperative management of hepatocellular carcinoma and compared with non-immunotherapy postoperation. A meta-analysis was carried out to examine one- and 3-year recurrence and survival.

Results: The overall analysis revealed significantly reduced risk of 1-year recurrence in patients receiving adoptive immunotherapy (OR=0.35; 95% CI, 0.17 to 0.71; p=0.003), in that the risk of 3-year recurrence with a pooled OR estimated at 0.31 (95% CI 0.16 to 0.61; p=0.001). However, no statistically significant difference was observed for 3-year survival between groups with adoptive immunotherapy and without adjuvant treatment (OR=0.91; 95% CI, 0.45 to 1.84; P=0.792).

Conclusions: Adjuvant immunotherapy with cytokine induced killer cells or lymphokine activated killer cells may reduce recurrence in postoperative hepatocellular carcinoma patients, but may not improve survival.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / therapy*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy, Adoptive*
  • Liver Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Postoperative Period
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Recurrence
  • Survival Analysis

Grant support

This work was supported in part by grants from the China Postdoctoral Science Fund (20100470107), China Postdoctoral Science Special Fund (201104750), CSCO Fund (Y-B2011-006) and the Fund of the Ministry of Science and Technology of China (2008ZX10002-018). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.