Antibodies against mucin-associated sialyl-Tn epitopes correlate with survival of metastatic adenocarcinoma patients undergoing active specific immunotherapy with synthetic STn vaccine

J Immunother Emphasis Tumor Immunol. 1996 Jan;19(1):59-68. doi: 10.1097/00002371-199601000-00007.


The humoral immune response of 85 metastatic breast, ovarian, and colorectal cancer patients was analyzed after immunization with THERATOPE STn-KLH (KLH, keyhole limpet hemocyanin) cancer vaccine emulsified in DETOX adjuvant. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) antibody titers against the synthetic sialyl-Tn (STn) epitope were estimated by using solid phase STn-HSA and compared with antibody titers generated to the more biologically relevant natural mucin STn epitopes by using ovine submaxillary mucin (OSM) as a solid phase. Anti-KLH antibody titers were compared with anti-STn antibody titers as a specificity control. All but two patients generated increased anti-OSM antibody titers after immunization with STn-KLH. Breast and colorectal cancer patients who had the highest anti-OSM antibody titers, determined 4 weeks after the fourth immunization with STn-KLH (post-4 ASI), survived longer than the patients who had lower post-4 active specific immunotherapy (ASI) anti-OSM antibody titers. In contrast, there was no correlation of anti-KLH antibody titers with survival, demonstrating the specificity of the association of anti-OSM antibodies with survival. Cox multivariate survival analysis models were used to attempt to determine whether the induction of high-titer antibodies after immunization is a prognostic indicator independent of age, level of various tumor markers, extent of disease, lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) level, and route of administration of low-dose cyclophosphamide before ASI. Increased pre-ASI CA-125 serum levels in the ovarian cancer patients were predictors of poor survival, independent of all of the other prognostic factors. The postimmunization increase in anti-OSM immunoglobulin M (IgM) titer was independently associated with longer survival of the colorectal cancer patients. Increased anti-OSM IgG titers were associated with a marked increased survival of the breast cancer patients, which was independent of all other prognostic factors except the size of measurable metastatic lesions at trial entry and the route of administration of cyclophosphamide. In a randomized trial design, breast cancer patients who received low-dose intravenous cyclophosphamide just before ASI showed longer survival and generated higher anti-OSM antibody titers than did patients who received low-dose oral cyclophosphamide before ASI.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / immunology
  • Adenocarcinoma / mortality
  • Adenocarcinoma / secondary*
  • Adenocarcinoma / therapy
  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / therapeutic use
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antibodies, Neoplasm / analysis*
  • Antigens, Tumor-Associated, Carbohydrate / immunology*
  • Antigens, Tumor-Associated, Carbohydrate / therapeutic use*
  • Breast Neoplasms / immunology
  • Breast Neoplasms / mortality
  • Breast Neoplasms / secondary
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy
  • Cancer Vaccines / therapeutic use*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / immunology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / mortality
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / secondary
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / therapy
  • Female
  • Hemocyanins / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / biosynthesis
  • Immunoglobulin M / biosynthesis
  • Immunotherapy, Active*
  • Karnofsky Performance Status
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mucins / immunology*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / immunology
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / mortality
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / secondary
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / therapy
  • Prognosis
  • Survival Analysis


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Antibodies, Neoplasm
  • Antigens, Tumor-Associated, Carbohydrate
  • Cancer Vaccines
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Immunoglobulin M
  • Mucins
  • sialosyl-Tn antigen
  • sialyl-Tn antigen-keyhole-limpet hemocyanin conjugate
  • Hemocyanins