Modulation of lymphocyte regulation for cancer therapy: A phase II trial of tremelimumab in advanced gastric and esophageal adenocarcinoma

Christy Ralph, Eyad Elkord, Deborah J. Burt, Jackie F. O'Dwyer, Eric B. Austin, Peter L. Stern, Robert E. Hawkins, Fiona C. Thistlethwaite

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

231 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Cytotoxic T lymphocyte antigen 4 (CTLA4), a key negative regulator of T-cell activation, is targeted by the antibody tremelimumab to release potentially useful antitumor activity. Experimental Design: This phase II trial investigated tremelimumab as a second-line treatment for patients with metastatic gastric and esophageal adenocarcinomas. Tremelimumab was given every 3 months until symptomatic disease progression. Safety, clinical efficacy, and immunologic activity were evaluated. Results: Eighteen patients received tremelimumab. Most drug-related toxicity was mild; however, there was a single death due to bowel perforation that complicated colitis. Four patients had stable disease with clinical benefit; one patient achieved a partial response after eight cycles (25.4 months) and remains well on study at 32.7 months. Markers of regulatory phenotype, forkhead box protein 3 and CTLA4, doubled transiently in CD4+CD25high lymphocytes in the first month after tremelimumab before returning to baseline. In contrast, CTLA4 increased in CD4+CD25low/negative lymphocytes throughout the cycle of treatment. De novo proliferative responses to tumor-associated antigens 5T4 (8 of 18 patients) and carcinoembryonic antigen (5 of 13) were detected. Patients with a posttreatment carcinoembryonic antigen proliferative response had median survival of 17.1 months compared with 4.7 months for nonresponders (P = 0.004). Baseline interleukin-2 release after T-cell activation was higher in patients with clinical benefit and toxicity. Conclusion: Despite the disappointing response rate of tremelimumab, one patient had a remarkably durable benefit for this poor-prognosis disease. In vitro evidence of enhanced proliferative responses to relevant tumor-associated antigens suggests that combining CTLA4 blockade with antigen-targeted therapy may warrant further investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1662-1672
Number of pages11
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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