Increased interleukin-6 (IL-6) production and expression by malignant cells of the IL-6 receptor has been evidenced in a subgroup of non- Hodgkin's lymphomas, suggesting that this cytokine plays a role in lymphoma growth and in B clinical symptoms. In this study, the effect of the administration of an anti-IL-6 monoclonal antibody (MoAb) was analyzed in 11 patients seropositive for human immunodeficiency virus-1 and suffering from an immunoblastic or a polymorphic large-cell lymphoma. The antibody (BE-8, 10 to 40 mg/day) was administered for 21 days. Neutralization of in vivo IL-6 effect was assessed by monitoring C-reactive protein levels in the serum. In 5 patients, the lymphoma progressed during treatment. Among them were the 2 patients in whom endogenous IL-6 effect was not neutralized. Five patients experienced a stabilization, and 1 a partial remission. This effect on lymphoma growth lasted for 8 to 28 weeks. The anti-IL-6 MoAb had a clear effect on lymphoma-associated fever and cachexia. The mean body weight increase was 1.4 +/- 0.5 kg between day 1 and day 21, and reached 12 kg in 120 days in 1 patient who received three courses of treatment. Side effects were a consistent but moderate thrombocytopenia, and an occasional and moderate decrease of neutrophil counts. Immunization against the MoAb was observed in only 2 patients. These results indicate that in some cases of lymphomas growth of malignant cells may be partially IL-6-dependent and that neutralizing endogenous effect of IL-6 completely abrogates B clinical symptoms.

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