Immunological Therapies Can Relieve Aromatase Inhibitor-Related Joint Symptoms in Breast Cancer Survivors

Reprinted from American Journal of Clinical Oncology, December 2010 - Volume 33 - Issue 6 - pp 557-560, doi: 10.1097/COC.0b013e3181cae782

Objectives: Aromatase inhibitors can cause joint symptoms. The purpose of this pilot study was to evaluate the feasibility of immunologic therapies for this kind of joint symptoms.

Methods: A total of 16 postmenopausal women with stage I–III breast cancer with joint symptoms related to Aromatase inhibitors were enrolled. They received immunologic therapies of thymosin α1 1.6 mg, twice a week for 4 weeks. Outcome measures included the Brief Pain Inventory-Short Form, Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis index, and the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-General quality of life measure. Interferon-gamma and interleukin-4 were determined to evaluate immunomodulatory activity. Paired Samples Test and linear regression analysis were used to statistics the outcome measures.

Results: From baseline to the end of treatment, patients reported improvement in the mean Brief Pain Inventory-Short Form worst pain scores (5.7–3.4, P < 0.001), pain severity (3.9–2.9, P = 0.01), and pain-related functional interference (4.2–1.8, P < 0.001), as well as the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis function subscale and Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-General physical well-being (P < 0.001 and P < 0.001, respectively). No adverse events were reported. The mean serum concentrations for secretion of interferon-gamma were significantly lower (P < 0.001); serum concentrations of interleukin 4 were higher (P = 0.02).

Conclusion: Immunologic therapies could play a role in reducing Aromatase inhibitor-related joint symptoms in breast cancer survivors and affecting the immune system in powerful ways. The improvements of immune system were associated with aromatase inhibitor-related joint symptoms.

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