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Abstract

A patient with primary plasma cell leukemia resistant to chemotherapy was treated for 2 months with daily intravenous injections of anti- interleukin-6 (IL-6) monoclonal antibodies (MoAbs). The patient's clinical status improved throughout the treatment and no major side effects were observed. Serial monitoring showed blockage of the myeloma cell proliferation in the bone marrow (from 4.5% to 0% myeloma cells in the S-phase in vivo) as well as reduction in the serum calcium, serum monoclonal IgG, and the serum C-reactive protein levels. The serum calcium and serum monoclonal IgG corrected by approximately 30%, whereas the C-reactive protein corrected to undetectable levels during treatment. No major side effects developed, although both platelet and circulating neutrophil counts decreased during anti-IL-6 therapy. A transient immunization was detected 15 days after the initiation of the treatment, which could explain the recovery of myeloma cell proliferation after 2 months of treatment (2% myeloma cells in the S phase). In conclusion, this first anti-IL-6 clinical trial demonstrated the feasibility of injecting anti-IL-6 MoAbs, and also a transient tumor cytostasis and a reduction in IL-6-related toxicities. It gave insight into the major biologic activities of IL-6 in vivo and may serve as a basis for further development of anti-IL-6 therapy in myeloma and other IL-6-related diseases.