Pilot study of granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor and interleukin-2 as immune adjuvants for a melanoma peptide vaccine

Matthew S. Block, Vera J. Suman, Wendy K. Nevala, Lisa A. Kottschade, Edward T. Creagan, Judith S. Kaur, Jorge Fernando Quevedo, Robert R. McWilliams, Svetomir N. Markovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Thus far, peptide vaccines used to stimulate tumor-specific immune responses in patients with melanoma have been largely unsuccessful. Granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor and interleukin-2 are immune-potentiating cytokines that have improved vaccine responses in preclinical models. We hypothesized that higher doses of granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor and addition of low-dose interleukin-2 might augment responses to vaccine antigens. Patients with resected stage II, III, or IV melanoma were treated with vaccines containing three melanoma-associated peptides [MART-1a, gp100(207-217), and survivin], along with 300 or 500 mcg granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor in Montanide ISA. Cohorts of patients received low-dose subcutaneous interleukin-2 on days 7-20 after vaccination. Induction of a response was defined as either doubling of cytotoxic T lymphocyte frequency from baseline or increase in frequency from undetectable (<0.05%) to detectable. Leukocyte subsets and plasma cytokines were analyzed before and after vaccination. Cytotoxic T lymphocyte responses to MART-1a, gp100(207-217), and survivin were induced in 11, 16, and 14 of 19 patients, respectively. Responses were not higher in patients receiving 500 mcg granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor or low-dose interleukin-2 than in patients receiving 300 mcg granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor only. Interleukin-2 treatment (in nine patients) led to increases in natural killer cells and T regulatory cells compared with no interleukin-2 treatment (nine patients). Multiple plasma cytokines were transiently induced during vaccination. Neither increasing the dose of granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor nor addition of low-dose interleukin-2 resulted in an increase in the frequency of vaccine-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes to a melanoma peptide vaccine. The increase in T regulatory cells associated with interleukin-2 treatment suggests that interleukin-2 may be immunosuppressive in this setting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)438-445
Number of pages8
JournalMelanoma research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2011


  • cancer vaccine
  • cytokines
  • granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor
  • interleukin-2
  • melanoma
  • phase I clinical trial

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Dermatology
  • Cancer Research


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