Background: Our polyvalent, allogeneic melanoma cell vaccine (MCV) induces immunoglobulin M (IgM) and immunoglobulin G (IgG) class antibodies to a 90-kDa glycoprotein melanoma-associated antigen (MAA). Additionally, MCV induces delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) responses that we previously correlated with survival. We hypothesized that early DTH responses to MCV and early humoral responses to the 90-kDa MAA expressed on MCV cells may be predictive of overall survival. We tested this hypothesis by monitoring immunologic profiles in 59 patients with melanoma who were receiving MCV after surgical resection of regional lymph node or soft-tissue metastases.
Methods: Blood was drawn before vaccine administration, biweekly for 6 weeks, and then monthly. DTH to MCV was recorded at 0, 2, 4, and 8 weeks of MCV therapy. Mean antibody titers during the first 6-week interval were calculated. Changes in DTH were calculated as the difference between peak and prevaccine values (delta DTH).
Results: At a median follow-up of 75.6 months (range 5-138), univariate analysis assigned prognostic significance to gender (p = 0.046), lymph node involvement (p = 0.024), delta DTH (p = 0.044), mean anti-90-kDa MAA IgG (p = 0.0009), and mean anti-90-kDa MAA IgM (p = 0.0014). In multifactorial analysis, only the three immunologic variables significantly impacted survival (p = 0.046, 0.0005, and 0.0053, respectively). A mathematical model based on delta DTH and mean anti-90-kDa MAA IgG and IgM titers closely approximated the observed individual and overall survival rates.
Conclusions: The correlation between overall survival and initial humoral/cellular immune responses to MCV immunotherapy may be useful in selecting patients most likely to benefit from prolonged adjuvant immunotherapy.