In 76 patients with renal cell carcinoma (RCC) we assessed the therapeutic effects of interferon-α (IFN-α) and the outcome of curative resection by analyzing changes in peripheral blood lymphocyte subsets to try to find prognostic indices. The percentage of activated CD8-positive cells present in blood samples before IFN-α therapy was significantly higher in progressive disease (PD) patients who died within 8 months than in PD patients who survived for more than 18 months. The high percentage of activated CD8-positive cells present in postoperative blood samples was the most remarkable characteristic in patients in which RCC recurred. Multivariate analysis showed that the percentage of activated CD8-positive cells in postoperative blood samples was the only predictor of recurrence (hazard ratio 1.29, p value 0.02). Thus, the high percentage of activated CD8-positive cells in postoperative blood samples is, therefore, a useful indicator of poor prognosis.

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