Melanoma antigen vaccines are a conceptually attractive approach to prevent or delay disease recurrence in patients with surgically resected malignant melanoma. However, the immunogenicity of current vaccines is relatively low. Cyclophosphamide, when given in low doses prior to antigen exposure, is an immunomodulator which has been shown to enhance both humoral and cellular antitumor responses in animals and humans. We conducted a prospective, randomized, clinical trial to study whether pretreatment with cyclophosphamide augments the immunogenicity of a polyvalent, allogeneic, melanoma antigen vaccine in patients with melanoma and low tumor burden.
Forty-five patients with resected stage II melanoma (regional metastases) were randomly allocated to treatment with melanoma vaccine or melanoma vaccine plus cyclophosphamide. All patients received the same dose and schedule of vaccine immunizations; those randomized to cyclophosphamide received 300 mg/m2 i.v. 3 days prior to each vaccine immunization. Cellular immune responses were evaluated by delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) skin reactivity to a test dose of vaccine at baseline (prior to treatment) and following the fourth immunization. Humoral immune responses were measured by sodium dodecyl sulfatepolyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and autoradiographic analysis of indirect immunoprecipitates of patients' sera at the same time points.
Twenty-four patients were randomized to cyclophosphamide pretreatment and 21 to vaccine alone; 22 and 18 patients were evaluable in each group, respectively.
Differences were statistically nonsignificant with respect to either cellular (DTH) or humoral (antibody) responses between the two groups. DTH responses were induced in 16 of 22 (73%) and 15 of 18 (83%) patients treated with cyclophosphamide plus vaccine and vaccine alone, respectively. The mean posttreatment augmentation in DTH response in the cyclophosphamide group was 9.5 mm, compared with 9.9 mm in the vaccine-only group. Eight of 12 (66%) cyclophosphamide-pretreated patients and 9 of 12 (75%) vaccine-only patients produced increased titers of antimelanoma antibodies following treatment. No differences were observed between the groups in disease-free or overall survival.
In summary, low-dose cyclophosphamide pretreatment failed to augment the immunogenicity of a polyvalent, allogeneic, melanoma vaccine in patients with completely resected early-stage melanoma.
Supported in part by USPHS Research Grants CA34358, P30CA16087, and AR39749 and by grants from the Rose M. Badgeley Trust, the Elsa U. Pardee Foundation, the Evans Foundation, and the Steven Taylor Memorial Fund.