Efficacy of cytokine-induced killer cell-based immunotherapy for hepatocellular carcinoma


Overall Survival



The study aims to investigate the efficacy of autologous transplantations of cytokine-induced killer (CIK) cells as an adjuvant therapy for patients with hepatocellular carcinoma HCC. The findings suggest that the therapy was linked with better survival for patients with HCC.

Patients characteristics

165 patients aged 18-75 years old with confirmed diagnosis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) by pathologic examination, had not undergone liver transplantation and had an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance status score of less than 2.


Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were isolated from 30 mL of peripheral blood collected from individual patients. The isolated PBMCs were cultured with anti-CD3 OKT antibody, INFγ, and IL2 at 37°C for 14 days according to a modified CIK preparation protocol.


The patients received a 250-mL intravenous administration of the CIK product in 60 min without any premedication and were then observed for at least 30 min after the treatment either as an inpatient or outpatient. The recommended frequency of CIK treatments for the patients was every 2 weeks for the first 4 treatments, every 4 weeks for the second 4 treatments, and then every 3 months for the following maintenance treatments.
The patients who had received surgery, TACE, or CT together with adjuvant autologous transplantation of CIKs were designated as the Surgery+CIK, TACE+CIK, and CT+CIK groups, respectively. TACE and TACE-based comprehensive treatments (CT) based on the conventional therapy, and CT were defined as the combined TACE with chemotherapeutic agents or targeted drugs (such as cisplatin or sorafenib). Patients who were treated with only CIK therapy were designated as the CIK group. Control patients who had received only surgery or TACE alone were designated as the Surgery and TACE groups, respectively.CIK-group (n=10), Surgery-CIK group (n=45), TACE-CIK group (n=52), CT-CIK (n=58).


The survival data revealed that the patients treated with surgery with adjuvant CIK therapy had a significantly increased OS. In contrast, the patients treated with CIKs alone demonstrated the shortest survival period, whereas there were no great differences in OS between the TACE+CIK and CT+CIK groups. Patients in the Surgery+CIK group had a smaller tumor size, whereas those treated with CIKs alone had a higher incidence of vascular invasion, which may be the reasons for the differences in OS among the 4 groups.
Adverse reactions
The adverse events (AEs) that occurred in the CIK-treated individuals are among these, fever was the most common AE, with 26.1% of the patients experiencing low- grade (ranging from 37°C to 38°C) and high- grade (higher than 38° C) fevers. However, no severe AEs related to CIK treatment were observed in this study.


In conclusion, adjuvant CIK therapy is a promising clinical approach for improving the PFS and OS of patients who primarily receive surgery and TACE for HCC, respectively.

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Scientific article publishing date 15/6/2019

Immucura identifier BSC21_244EN