Blood Journal
Leading the way in experimental and clinical research in hematology

Combination protocols of cytokine therapy with interleukin-3 and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor in a primate model of radiation-induced marrow aplasia

  1. AM Farese,
  2. DE Williams,
  3. FR Seiler, and
  4. TJ MacVittie
  1. Experimental Hematology Department, Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute, Bethesda, MD 20889–5603.


Single cytokine therapy with granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) or interleukin-3 (IL-3) has been shown to be effective in decreasing the respective periods of neutropenia and thrombocytopenia following radiation- or drug-induced marrow aplasia. The combined administration of IL-3 and GM-CSF in normal primates suggested that a sequential protocol of IL-3 followed by GM-CSF would be more effective than that of GM-CSF alone in producing neutrophils (PMN). We investigated the therapeutic efficacy of two combination protocols, the sequential and coadministration of recombinant human IL- 3 and GM-CSF relative to respective single cytokine therapy, and delayed GM-CSF administration in sublethally irradiated rhesus monkeys. Monkeys irradiated with 450 cGy (mixed fission neutron:gamma radiation) received either IL-3, GM-CSF, human serum albumin (HSA), or IL-3 coadministered with GM-CSF for days 1 through 21 consecutively postexposure, or IL-3 or HSA for days 1 through 7 followed by GM-CSF for days 7 through 21. All cytokines and HSA were injected subcutaneously at a total dose of 25 micrograms/kg/d, divided twice daily. Complete blood counts (CBC) and platelet (PLT) counts were monitored over 60 days postirradiation. The respiratory burst activity of the PMN was assessed flow cytometrically, by measuring hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) production. Coadministration of IL-3 and GM-CSF reduced the average 16-day period of neutropenia and antibiotic support in the control animals to 6 days (P = .006). Similarly, the average 10-day period of severe thrombocytopenia, which necessitated PLT transfusion in the control animals, was reduced to 3 days when IL-3 and GM-CSF were coadministered (P = .004). The sequential administration of IL-3 followed by GM-CSF had no greater effect on PMN production than GM-CSF alone and was less effective than IL-3 alone in reducing thrombocytopenia. PMN function was enhanced in all cytokine-treated animals.