Dorsal Muscle Attenuation May Predict Failure to Respond to Interleukin-2 Therapy in Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma

Published:March 21, 2017DOI:

      Rationale and Objectives

      To explore whether the sarcopenia body type can help predict response to interleukin-2 (IL-2) therapy in metastatic renal cell carcinoma (RCC).

      Materials and Methods

      Institutional review board approval was obtained for this Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act-compliant retrospective cohort study of 75 subjects with metastatic RCC who underwent pretreatment contrast-enhanced computed tomography within 1 year of initiating IL-2 therapy. Cross-sectional area and attenuation of normal-density (31–100 Hounsfield units [HU]) and low-density (0–30 HU) dorsal muscles were obtained at the T11 vertebral level. The primary outcome was partial or complete response to IL-2 using RECIST 1.1 criteria at 6 weeks. A conditional inference tree was used to determine an optimal HU cutoff for predicting outcome. Bonferroni-adjusted multivariate logistic regression was conducted to investigate the independent associations between imaging features and response after controlling for demographics, doses of IL-2, and RCC prognostic scales (eg, Heng and the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center [MSKCC]).


      Most subjects had intermediate prognosis by Heng (65% [49 of 75]) and the MSKCC (63% [47 of 75]) criteria; 7% had complete response and 12% had partial response. Mean attenuation of low-density dorsal muscles was a significant univariate predictor of IL-2 response after Bonferroni correction (P = 0.03). The odds of responding to treatment were 5.8 times higher for subjects with higher-attenuation low-density dorsal muscles (optimal cutoff: 18.1 HU). This persisted in multivariate analysis (P = 0.02). Body mass index (P = 0.67) and the Heng (P = 0.22) and MSKCC (P = 0.08) clinical prognostic scales were not significant predictors of response.


      Mean cross-sectional attenuation of low-density dorsal muscles (ie, sarcopenia) may predict IL-2 response in metastatic RCC. Clinical variables are poor predictors of response.

      Key Words

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