A phase I trial of recombinant tumor necrosis factor (rTNF) administered by continuous intravenous infusion in patients with disseminated malignancy

Jonathan E. Schwartz, Philip Scuderi, Cyndy Wiggins, Alfred Rudolph, Evan M. Hersh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


rTNF was administered to 28 patients with advanced metastatic cancers by continuous intra venous infusion for 5 consecutive days every 2 weeks. The dose levels were 30, 40, 70, 110, 180 and 290 μg/M2/day. Groups of 3 patients were started at each successive dose level and then on subsequent courses treated with the next dose level through 4 escalations as tolerated. Tumor types were: colon cancer 14; adenocarcinoma of unknown primary, 2; renal cancer, 2; leiomyosarcoma, 2; lung cancer, 1; prostate cancer, 1; thymona, 1; bladder cancer; 1; parotid, 1; Kaposi's sarcoma 2; ovarian 1. Toxicities included fever and chills (usually within the first 8 hours of infusion), fatigue, headache, decreased performance status, hypotension and CNS. All patients experienced leukopenia and thrombocytopenia within 24 hours or less after start of infusion with return of baseline by 72 hours after rTNF was stopped. The fall in these counts averaged 50% and was not dose related. No major changes in liver or renal function, coagulation or blood lipids were seen. Major dose limiting toxicities were fatigue, confusion, thrombocytopenia, seizures, hypotension and decreased performance status. NK cell activity measured against K562 target cells was augmented from about 30% target cell lysis to about 70% target cell lysis over the first 7 days of treatment. Two patients, both with metastatic colon cancer showed transient, objective tumor regression which did not qualify as a partial response. One patient with ovarian cancer had a stable partial response but progressed after 13 courses of treatment. Continuous infusion of TNF can be safely administered to patients with a maximum tolerated dose of only between 30 and 40 μg/M2/day. In addition, the MTD with continuous infusion seems to be highly variable and unpredictable from patient to patient. These data suggest that continuous infusion will not be an optimal way to administer TNF.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)207-214
Number of pages8
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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