Phase II trial of levocetirizine with capecitabine and bevacizumab to overcome the resistance of antiangiogenic therapies in refractory metastatic colorectal cancer

Manik Amin, Monica Desai, Kathryn Trinkaus, Amberly Brown, Andrea Wang-Gillam, Benjamin Tan, Joel Picus, Steven Sorscher, Maureen Highkin, Kim Lears, Albert C. Lockhart

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5 Scopus citations


Background: Despite the clinical success of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) blockade in metastatic colorectal cancers (mCRC), resistance to anti-angiogenic drugs invariably develops. IL-8 and other cytokines have been implicated in development of resistance to anti-angiogenic therapy. Levocetirizine is a second generation H1 antihistamine with anti-inflammatory and IL-8 suppression properties. We conducted a phase II trial combining levocetirizine with capecitabine and bevacizumab to potentially overcome anti-angiogenic therapy resistance in patients with refractory mCRC. Methods: This was a single-center open-label prospective trial in refractory mCRC patients. Treatment consisted of oral capecitabine 850 mg/m2 twice daily administered as 7 days on and 7 days off, intravenous (IV) bevacizumab 5 mg/kg every 14 days and oral levocetirizine 5 mg daily. The primary end point was progression free survival (PFS) and secondary endpoints included objective response rate (ORR) and tolerability. An exploratory endpoint included correlation of PFS with cytokine levels. A sample size of 36 evaluable patients could identify a median PFS of 3.4 months at a 0.05 significance level. To examine cytokine changes related to levocetirizine treatment, patients were randomized to Arm A where levocetirizine was started 7 days after starting chemotherapy and to Arm B where levocetirizine was started 7 days prior to chemotherapy. Cytokine levels were measured at baseline and with each cycle of chemotherapy (up to three cycles). Results: Forty-seven patients were enrolled in the trial to have 36 evaluable patients. Arm A enrolled 23 patients and Arm B enrolled 24 patients. Fifty percent of patients had progressive disease and 62% of patients had stable disease in each arm as best response. There was no demonstrable difference in PFS between the two arms (log-rank test P=0.83). Median time to progression was 3.4 months in Arm A and 3.5 months in Arm B. Conclusions: Median PFS in the trial was comparable to and appeared to be better than other regimens used in the refractory setting (e.g., median PFS of 1.9 months for regorafenib). Cytokine measurement with IL-8 levels did not show any correlation with progression free survival but patients with stable disease showed overall lower levels of IL-8 as compared to patients with progressive disease in the cytokine analysis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)412-420
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Gastrointestinal Oncology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2019


  • Anti-angiogenic resistance
  • Cytokine IL-8
  • Levocetirizine
  • Metastatic colorectal cancer


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