Immunologic determinants of head and neck cancer response to induction chemotherapy

J Clin Oncol. 1989 Jul;7(7):857-64. doi: 10.1200/JCO.1989.7.7.857.


Various measures of immune response were assessed prior to induction chemotherapy (intravenous [IV] cisplatin, fluorouracil [5-FU], and bleomycin) in 43 previously untreated head and neck cancer patients to derive a clinical response prediction model. These were parameters of functional cellular immunity (natural killer [NK] cell activity, lymphocyte blastogenesis response to mitogens), total lymphocyte and lymphocyte subset numbers and percentages, and circulating humoral immunity (total immunoglobulin, immunoglobulin classes, and C1q binding activity [C1q BA]). The C1q BA may reflect levels of circulating immune complexes within peripheral blood. The objective primary tumor response rate was 65% (16 complete responses and 12 partial responses). Univariate logistic regression analysis showed that failure to respond to therapy was significantly related to higher value (vis-à-vis response) of humoral immune parameters total immunoglobulin (Ig), P less than .01; IgG, P less than .01; and C1q BA, P less than .001. No association between cellular immune response measurements and response to chemotherapy was identified. By multivariate logistic regression analysis, only C1q BA levels were predictive of drug therapy responsiveness (P less than .001). Results extend our previous investigations regarding C1q BA measurement in head and neck cancer patients, and show that C1q BA levels add accuracy of prediction of subsequent chemotherapy response to that based solely on standard staging criteria and other parameters of immune status.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antibody Formation / drug effects
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Bleomycin / administration & dosage
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / immunology*
  • Cisplatin / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Fluorouracil / administration & dosage
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular / drug effects
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Lymphocytes
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis


  • Bleomycin
  • Cisplatin
  • Fluorouracil