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Histamine in cancer immunotherapy.

Journal article
Authors Kristoffer Hellstrand
Svante Hermodsson
Mats Brune
Peter Naredi
Jan Carneskog
Ulf-Henrik Mellqvist
Published in Scandinavian journal of clinical and laboratory investigation
Volume 57
Issue 3
Pages 193-202
ISSN 0036-5513
Publication year 1997
Published at
Pages 193-202
Language en
Keywords Animals, Antineoplastic Agents, therapeutic use, Histamine, therapeutic use, Humans, Immunotherapy, Active, methods
Subject categories Cancer and Oncology

Abstract

A novel strategy for enhancing the efficacy of immunotherapy with interleukin-2 (IL-2) and interferon-alpha (IFN-alpha) in human neoplasia is presented. IL-2 and IFN-alpha are potent activators of the antitumour activity of natural killer (NK) cells but only rarely reduce the tumour burden in treated patients. Recent studies suggest that a reason why these cytokines are insufficiently effective in human cancer is that phagocytes inhibit the tumour-killing activity of NK cells at the site of the tumour. Histamine prevents the phagocyte-induced, NK cell-inhibiting signal; thus, histamine and IL-2 or histamine and IFN-alpha synergize to induce NK cell-mediated killing of human tumour cells in vitro. Further, treatment of tumour-bearing mice with histamine enhances IL-2- and IFN-alpha-induced destruction of NK cell-sensitive tumour cells in vivo. More than 50 patients with neoplastic disease have been treated with histamine, given in subcutaneous injections, together with IL-2 or IFN-alpha. The results of two pilot trials in metastatic melanoma suggest that the addition of histamine to IL-2 and IFN-alpha prolongs survival time and induces regression of tumours, such as liver melanoma, which are otherwise considered refractory to immunotherapy. The results of a trial in acute myelogenous leukaemia (AML) suggest that histamine and IL-2 protects AML patients against relapse of leukaemic disease. Histamine is well tolerated: for example, AML patients in remission have treated themselves with histamine at home without supervision for a total of > 300 weeks with only a handful of therapy-related hospital contacts. Controlled trials in melanoma and AML are under way to further investigate the putative benefit of histamine in neoplastic disease.

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