Combining Radiation Therapy With Interferons: Back to the Future

Ruben S.A. Goedegebuure, Christian Vonk, Laura P. Kooij, Sarah Derks, Victor L.J.L. Thijssen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Radiation therapy has been linked to the induction of an intratumoral type I interferon (IFN) response, which positively affects the response to treatment. This has spiked the interest to combine radiation therapy with IFN-based treatment. Interestingly, this combination treatment has been considered previously, since preclinical studies demonstrated a radiosensitizing effect of interferons. As a result, multiple clinical trials have been performed combining radiation therapy with interferons in different tumor types. Although potential benefit has been suggested, the outcomes of the trials are diverse and challenging to interpret. In addition, increased grade ≥3 toxicity frequently resulted in a negative recommendation regarding the combination therapy. The latter appears premature because many studies were small and several aspects of the combination treatment have not yet been sufficiently explored to justify such a definite conclusion. This review summarizes the available literature on this combination therapy, with a focus on IFN-α and IFN-β. Based on preclinical studies and clinical trials, we evaluated the potential opportunities and describe the current challenges. In addition, we identify several issues that should be addressed to fully exploit the potential benefit of this combinatorial treatment approach.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-69
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2020

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