Try our beta test site
IMPORTANT: Listing of a study on this site does not reflect endorsement by the National Institutes of Health. Talk with a trusted healthcare professional before volunteering for a study. Read more...

Tocilizumab and Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis (HLH)

This study is currently recruiting participants. (see Contacts and Locations)
Verified February 2017 by Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Identifier:
First received: December 5, 2013
Last updated: February 15, 2017
Last verified: February 2017
This study seeks to determine the efficacy of tocilizumab (TCZ) in patients with hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) and high cytokine levels (proteins involved in inflammation) in an attempt to decrease the damage caused by these proteins; and secondarily to assess its safety and impact on disease activity.

Condition Intervention Phase
Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis
Drug: tocilizumab
Phase 2

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Intervention Model: Single Group Assignment
Masking: No masking
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Official Title: Cytokine Blockade With Tocilizumab in Patients With Cytokine Release Syndrome and Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis

Resource links provided by NLM:

Further study details as provided by Children's Hospital of Philadelphia:

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • Reduction in serum interferon-gamma levels after tocilizumab (TCZ) administration [ Time Frame: baseline, 24 -36 hours, and 4-7 days after administration of TCZ ]
    Assess change in interferon gamma levels from the screening visit to the measurements taken within 24-36 hours and at 4-7 days after drug administration.

Secondary Outcome Measures:
  • Change in other cytokine levels (interleukin-6, interleukin-10, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, etc.) [ Time Frame: baseline, 24-36 hour, then weekly for 4 weeks after administration of TCZ ]
    Cytokine levels [IL-1, IL-2, sIL-2r, IL-4, IL-5, IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, IL-12, IL-13, Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) and IFN-γ] will be assessed at baseline, within 24-36 hours, then weekly for 4 weeks after TCZ administration;

  • Presence of HLH disease activity for each subject following TCZ administration [ Time Frame: within 1 week of administration of TCZ ]
    HLH disease activity markers will be assessed for each subject (fever, ferritin, cardiopulmonary support requirements, cytopenias, coagulation tests, etc.)

  • Degree of hepatic function, cytopenias and infection in subjects following administration of TCZ [ Time Frame: up to 1 year of administration of TCZ ]
    Degree of hepatic function, presence (or absence) of cytopenia/infection will be assessed based on changes in laboratory and clinical markers following administration of TCZ.

  • Overall survival of subjects [ Time Frame: day 100 and survival to completion of therapy (blood/marrow transplant, if applicable) ]
    Overall survival of subjects will include survival to day 100, and survival to completion of therapy (HSCT for primary HLH, and end of induction therapy for secondary HLH).

Estimated Enrollment: 10
Study Start Date: December 2013
Estimated Study Completion Date: July 2018
Estimated Primary Completion Date: January 2018 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Arms Assigned Interventions
Experimental: treatment
single dose of tocilizumab (8mg/kg intravenously) within 24 hours of administration of standard immunochemotherapy.
Drug: tocilizumab
single dose of tocilizumab (8mg/kg intravenously) within 24 hours of administration of standard immunochemotherapy.
Other Name: TCZ

Detailed Description:

Subjects with hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) often have life-threatening complications at the time of diagnosis resulting from excessive inflammation. This excessive inflammation is driven by abnormally high levels of cytokines--proteins involved in inflammation. Standard therapy for HLH does not directly target these cytokines. Tocilizumab is a medicine that blocks one of the cytokines that is elevated in patients with HLH.

This is an open-label single-arm uncontrolled trial with biologic endpoint. This study will use tocilizumab in subjects with HLH and high cytokine levels in an attempt to decrease the damage caused by these proteins. All subjects will receive standard therapy, in addition to tocilizumab. We hypothesize the tocilizumab will decrease levels of certain important cytokines. This may make it easier to treat subjects with HLH overall.

TCZ will be administered as a single dose (8mg/kg) intravenously. Eligible subjects will be inpatients at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) main campus. 10 subjects with HLH will be enrolled. All subjects will be initiated on standard HLH-directed treatment. Cytokine levels [including serum interferon (IFN-γ) and interleukin (IL-6)] will be monitored, in addition to other laboratory and clinical markers of HLH disease activity.


Ages Eligible for Study:   3 Months to 25 Years   (Child, Adult)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No

Inclusion Criteria:

  1. Males or females age 3 months to 25 years.
  2. Fulfill the clinical diagnostic criteria for HLH, as defined by the Histiocyte Society (see Table 1). Only patients with de novo HLH are eligible.
  3. Evidence of cytokine release syndrome (CRS), as defined by EITHER:

    i. Known elevated interferon-γ and interleukin-6 ≥2x ULN, OR ii. If cytokine levels are unknown at the time of study enrollment:

    a. Fever of at least 38.5º celsius at minimum of once every 24 hours for at least 48 hours, AND either i. Respiratory insufficiency requiring oxygen supplementation of at least 2 Liter by nasal cannula for at least 12 hours (also including invasive, noninvasive, continuous positive airway pressure or biphasic airway pressure for the purpose of treating respiratory failure), OR ii. Vasoactive infusion for at least 12 hours, including dopamine ≥5mcg/kg/min, dobutamine≥5mcg/kg/min, or any dose of epinephrine, norepinephrine, milrinone, or vasopressin.

  4. Patients must be planned to initiate HLH-directed therapy within 24 hours of study enrollment.
  5. Girls >= 11 years of age must have a negative urine/serum pregnancy test and must use an acceptable method of contraception, including abstinence, a barrier method (diaphragm or condom), Depo-Provera, or an oral contraceptive, for the duration of the study.
  6. Parental/guardian permission (informed consent)

Exclusion Criteria:

  1. On-going or planned participation in another clinical trial involving HLH-directed treatment
  2. Previous administration of any other biologic agent targeted at cytokine blockade within 5 days of enrollment.
  3. Renal insufficiency defined by estimated glomerular filtration rate (based on modified Schwartz formula) <50 ml/min, or need for renal replacement therapy.
  4. Hepatic dysfunction as defined by serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT)>=10x upper limit of normal (ULN). For the purposes of this study, the ULN for ALT is 45 U/L.
  5. HLH that is relapsed, refractory, or considered to be therapy-related, as in the case of T cell-activating therapies.
  6. Established prior diagnosis of underlying rheumatologic condition, including juvenile idiopathic arthritis.
  7. Pregnant or lactating females.
  8. Parents/guardians or subjects who, in the opinion of the Investigator, may be non-compliant with study schedules or procedures.
  9. Suspected gastrointestinal perforation.
  10. Known or suspected demyelinating central nervous system disease.
  11. Known history of tuberculosis.
  12. Transfusion-refractory thrombocytopenia defined as inability to maintain platelet count over 30,000/ul for at least 6 hours with transfusion support.
  13. Known active herpetic infection.
  14. Inability to start HLH-directed immunochemotherapy.
  Contacts and Locations
Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the Contacts provided below. For general information, see Learn About Clinical Studies.

Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT02007239

Contact: Margaret Tartaglione, RN 215-590-4029
Contact: Patricia Hankins, RN 215-590-5168

United States, Pennsylvania
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Recruiting
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, 19104
Contact: David Teachey, MD    267-426-5802   
Principal Investigator: David Teachey, MD         
Sponsors and Collaborators
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Principal Investigator: David Teachey, MD Division of Oncology, Department of Pediatrics, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
  More Information


Responsible Party: Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Identifier: NCT02007239     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: 13-010459
Study First Received: December 5, 2013
Last Updated: February 15, 2017

Keywords provided by Children's Hospital of Philadelphia:
hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH)
cytokine release syndrome

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Lymphohistiocytosis, Hemophagocytic
Histiocytosis, Non-Langerhans-Cell
Lymphatic Diseases processed this record on April 28, 2017