A randomized phase II study of autologous cytokine-induced killer cells in treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma

J Clin Immunol. 2014 Feb;34(2):194-203. doi: 10.1007/s10875-013-9976-0. Epub 2013 Dec 15.


Purpose: This prospective study aims to explore the benefit of cytokine-induced killer cell (CIK) treatment in hepatocellular carcinoma patients, which has not yet been thoroughly studied before.

Methods: From January 2004 to May 2009, 132 patients who were initially diagnosed with hepatocellular carcinoma of Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer (BCLC) stage A, B or C, Child-Pugh scores of A or B and without prior treatment were enrolled in the study. Patients were randomly assigned to either arm 1 (n = 66) to receive CIK treatment plus standard treatment, or arm 2 (n = 66) to receive standard treatment only. The primary end point was overall survival (OS) and the secondary endpoint was progression-free survival as evaluated by Kaplan-Meier analyses and treatment hazard ratios with the Cox proportional hazards model.

Results: The 1-year (OS: 74.2% vs. 50.0%, 95% CI: 63.6-84.8% vs. 37.8-62.2, p = 0.002), 2-year (OS: 53.0% vs. 30.3%, 95% CI: 40.8-65.2% vs. 19.1-41.5%, p = 0.002), 3-year (OS: 42.4% vs. 24.2%, 95% CI: 30.4-54.4% vs. 13.8-34.6%, p = 0.005) and median overall and progression-free survivals of arm 1 patients were significantly higher than those of arm 2. Therefore, in patients who are not suitable for surgery, significant benefit is obtained from CIK treatment. The main adverse effects of CIK included fever, allergy and headache pain.

Conclusions: Hepatocellular carcinoma patients who were not suitable for surgery demonstrate prolonged overall and progression-free survival from CIK treatment.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / immunology*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / therapy*
  • Cytokine-Induced Killer Cells / immunology*
  • Cytokine-Induced Killer Cells / metabolism
  • Cytotoxicity, Immunologic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Immunotherapy, Adoptive* / adverse effects
  • Liver Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Liver Neoplasms / mortality
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology
  • Liver Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Prognosis
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Tumor Burden