The effect of everolimus and low-dose cyclophosphamide on immune cell subsets in patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma: results from a phase I clinical trial

Charlotte M. Huijts, Sinéad M. Lougheed, Zuhir Bodalal, Carla M. van Herpen, Paul Hamberg, Metin Tascilar, John B. Haanen, Henk M. Verheul, Tanja D. de Gruijl, Hans J. van der Vliet, Dutch WIN-O Consortium

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For the treatment of metastatic renal cell cancer several strategies are used among which the mTOR inhibitor everolimus. As mTOR plays an important role in the immune system, e.g., by controlling the expression of the transcription factor FoxP3 thereby regulating regulatory T cells (Tregs), it plays a key role in the balance between tolerance and inflammation. Previous reports showed stimulatory effects of mTOR inhibition on the expansion of Tregs, an effect that can be considered detrimental in terms of cancer control. Since metronomic cyclophosphamide (CTX) was shown to selectively deplete Tregs, a phase 1 clinical trial was conducted to comprehensively investigate the immune-modulating effects of several dosages and schedules of CTX in combination with the standard dose of everolimus, with the explicit aim to achieve selective Treg depletion. Our data show that 50 mg of CTX once daily and continuously administered, in combination with the standard dose of 10 mg everolimus once daily, not only results in depletion of Tregs, but also leads to a reduction in MDSC, a sustained level of the CD8 + T-cell population accompanied by an increased effector to suppressor ratio, and reversal of negative effects on three peripheral blood DC subsets. These positive effects on the immune response may contribute to improved survival, and therefore this combination therapy is further evaluated in a phase II clinical trial.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)503-515
JournalCancer Immunology, Immunotherapy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 13 Mar 2019

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