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Nephrotoxicity from Cancer Immunotherapy

GARY M. DOSIK, M.D.; JORDAN U. GUTTERMAN, M.D., F.A.C.P.; EVAN M. HERSH, M.D.; MOHAMMED AKHTAR, M.D.; TAKUO SONODA, M.D.; and ROBERT G. HORN, M.D.
[+] Article and Author Information

Grant support: in part by Grant CAO5831 and Contract NO1-CB-33888 from the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.

▸Requests for reprints should be addressed to Gary M. Dosik, M.D.; The University of Texas System Cancer Center, M.D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute, Department of Developmental Therapeutics; Houston, TX 77030.


Houston, Texas


© 1978 American College of PhysiciansAmerican College of Physicians


Ann Intern Med. 1978;89(1):41-46. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-89-1-41
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Because systemic intravenous immunotherapy with Corynebacterium parvum is an effective immunopotentiating and immunotherapeutic agent in animals, clinical studies of this agent have been undertaken. Toxicities in man have been noted, but most are treated symptomatically. Three patients with metastatic melanoma developed oliguria, edema, diffuse bilateral pulmonary infiltrates, azotemia, hypoalbuminemia and hypocomplementemia, while receiving intravenous C. parvum therapy. All had renal biopsies that showed a proliferative glomerulonephritis with subendothelial basement membrane deposits. Immunofluorescence showed glomerular IgG, IgA, IgM, and the C3 component of complement. A fourth patient was found in retrospective chart review of 87 patients registered on two C. parvum-containing protocols. The frequency of the complication in this group was 3/87. Renal failure resolved in all four patients spontaneously after the cessation of C. parvum immunotherapy. Serial evaluation of renal function should be carried out in all patients on systemic adjuvant immunotherapy.

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