Outcome and Immune Correlates of a Phase II Trial of High-Dose Interleukin-2 and Stereotactic Ablative Radiotherapy for Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma

Clin Cancer Res. 2021 Dec 15;27(24):6716-6725. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-21-2083. Epub 2021 Sep 22.


Purpose: This phase II clinical trial evaluated whether the addition of stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SAbR), which may promote tumor antigen presentation, improves the overall response rate (ORR) to high-dose IL2 (HD IL2) in metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC).

Patients and methods: Patients with pathologic evidence of clear cell renal cell carcinoma (RCC) and radiographic evidence of metastasis were enrolled in this single-arm trial and were treated with SAbR, followed by HD IL2. ORR was assessed based on nonirradiated metastases. Secondary endpoints included overall survival (OS), progression-free survival (PFS), toxicity, and treatment-related tumor-specific immune response. Correlative studies involved whole-exome and transcriptome sequencing, T-cell receptor sequencing, cytokine analysis, and mass cytometry on patient samples.

Results: Thirty ethnically diverse mRCC patients were enrolled. A median of two metastases were treated with SAbR. Among 25 patients evaluable by RECIST v1.1, ORR was 16% with 8% complete responses. Median OS was 37 months. Treatment-related adverse events (AE) included 22 grade ≥3 events that were not dissimilar from HD IL2 alone. There were no grade 5 AEs. A correlation was observed between SAbR to lung metastases and improved PFS (P = 0.0165). Clinical benefit correlated with frameshift mutational load, mast cell tumor infiltration, decreased circulating tumor-associated T-cell clones, and T-cell clonal expansion. Higher regulatory/CD8+ T-cell ratios at baseline in the tumor and periphery correlated with no clinical benefit.

Conclusions: Adding SAbR did not improve the response rate to HD IL2 in patients with mRCC in this study. Tissue analyses suggest a possible correlation between frameshift mutation load as well as tumor immune infiltrates and clinical outcomes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell* / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell* / radiotherapy
  • Combined Modality Therapy / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-2 / adverse effects
  • Interleukin-2 / genetics
  • Kidney Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Kidney Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Lung Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Radiosurgery
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Interleukin-2