Major salivary gland dysfunction in patients with hematological malignancies receiving interleukin-2-based immunotherapy post-autologous blood stem cell transplantation (ABSCT)

Bone Marrow Transplant. 1997 Oct;20(7):575-80. doi: 10.1038/sj.bmt.1700928.


lnterleukin-2 (IL-2) is known to cause xerostomia and skin manifestations similar to graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). We therefore evaluated major salivary gland function in patients with hematological malignancies treated with IL-2 and interferon-alpha (IFN-alpha) after ABSCT. Eleven patients (seven male, four female) of median age 40 (24-47) were evaluated, seven with non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL); one with Hodgkin's disease (HD) and three with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). Parotid and submandibular salivary gland function was assessed before, during and after IL-2/IFN-alpha administration by evaluation of the salivary flow rate and the composition of secreted saliva. Significant reductions in both the resting and stimulated parotid and submandibular salivary flow rates were observed during IL-2/IFN-alpha immunotherapy compared with the pre- and post-therapy values (P < 0.01), while no hyposalivation was observed in the control patients who underwent ABSCT and did not received IL-2. Sialochemical evaluation revealed a significant increase in potassium concentration (24.4+/-0.6 mEq/l to 28.9+/-1.4 mEq/l) and a significant decrease in sodium concentration (6.7+/-2.1 mEq/l to 3.3+/-1.0 mEq/l) (P < 0.05) in the stimulated parotid gland saliva secreted during IL-2/IFN-alpha administration. Salivary protein concentrations were not altered by the IL-2/IFN-alpha immunotherapy. Similar changes were previously observed in mice and humans with chronic GVHD. We conclude that IL-2 immunotherapy induces major salivary gland dysfunction in humans, similar to our previous observations in patients with chronic GVHD, which may indicate similar pathophysiologic mechanisms.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / immunology
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / therapy
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation* / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy
  • Interleukin-2 / adverse effects
  • Interleukin-2 / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Middle Aged
  • Salivary Glands / immunology
  • Salivary Glands / physiopathology*
  • Transplantation, Autologous


  • Interleukin-2