Patients suffering from adult acute lymphoblastic leukemia are acutely ill and present most commonly with fever, pallor, bleeding, lymphadenopathy, hepatosplenomegaly and presence of lymphoblasts in the peripheral blood and bone marrow. We describe a rare presentation of acute lymphoblastic leukemia, in a young adult male who had vague and minimal symptoms with mild splenomegaly. There was severe eosinophilia along with absence of blasts in the peripheral blood, and 40% blasts with increase in eosinophils in the bone marrow. The blasts were positive for common precursor B cell markers on flow cytometry. The patient had a unique cytogenetic abnormality t(7;12)(q22;p13),-9, not previously described in acute lymphoblastic leukemia. He was categorized as poor risk due to failure to achieve complete remission after induction with UK ALL XII chemotherapy.
Although most children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) are cured, certain subsets have a high risk of relapse. Relapse risk can be predicted by early response to therapy, clinical and pharmacogenetic features of the host, and genetic characteristics of leukemic cells. Though early treatment response can be assessed by the peripheral blast cell count after 1 week of single-agent glucocorticoid treatment or percent of bone marrow blasts by morphology after 1 or 2 weeks of multiagent induction treatment, determination of minimal residual disease by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or flow cytometry after 2 to 6 weeks of induction is the most precise and useful measure. Augmented therapy has improved outcome for the poor responders to initial treatment. Infants with mixed-lineage leukemia (MLL)–rearranged ALL comprise a very poor-risk group wherein further intensification of chemotherapy causes significant toxicity. Hybrid protocols incorporating drugs effective for acute myeloid leukemia could improve survival, a strategy being tested in international trials. Studies on the biology of MLL-induced leukemogenesis have prompted the development of novel targeted agents, currently under evaluation in clinical trials. Short-term outcomes of patients with Philadelphia chromosome (Ph)–positive ALL have improved significantly by adding tyrosine kinase inhibitors to standard chemotherapy regimens. New agents and methods to overcome resistance are under investigation, and allogeneic stem cell transplantation is recommended for certain subsets of patients, for example those with Ph+ and T-cell ALL with poor early response. Genome-wide interrogation of leukemic cell genetic abnormalities and germline genetic variations promise to identify new molecular targets for therapy.
Childhood cancer; Dasatinib; Imatinib; Infant ALL; Pediatric disease; Philadelphia chromosome; positive disease; Slow early response
Remission induction was assessed by clinical and cell-culture criteria for 65 patients with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), 11 patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) in blast crisis and 19 patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Cyclophosphamide, cytosine arabinoside and vincristine (CAV) therapy resulted in complete remission in 23 of 50 previously untreated patients with AML and in 3 of the 11 patients with CML. Fourteen patients with ALL responded to vincristine-prednisone induction therapy and two to induction therapy with CAV. The median duration of survival of the responding patients was 2.2 years, compared with 4 months for the patients who did not respond to treatment. Granulopoietic colony formation, assessed by assay of colony-forming units dependent on colony-stimulating activity in culture (CFU-C), was abnormal in 37 of 42 bone marrow aspirates from patients with AML before treatement. CFU-C concentration increased when leukocyte-conditioned medium (LCM) was added to the cultures; 13 cultures had normal or elevated CFU-C concentration with LCM. Marrow cells of patients with ALL or CML in blast crisis demonstrated a similar pattern. Serial studies of marrow CFU-C concentration of 31 patients with AML demonstrated a change to a normal pattern with successful remission induction. Results of this study suggest that administration of purified LCM to leukemic patients might increase granulocyte production from potential but unstimulated granulopoietic precursors. This therapy would lessen the probability of death from infection during remission induction.
To identify children with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) at high risk of induction chemotherapy failure by using DNA copy number analysis of leukemic cells collected at diagnosis.
Patients and Methods
Array comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) was performed on genomic DNA extracted from diagnostic lymphoblasts from 47 children with T-ALL treated on Children's Oncology Group Study P9404 or Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Protocol 00-01. These samples represented nine patients who did not achieve an initial complete remission, 13 who relapsed, and 25 who became long-term, event-free survivors. The findings were confirmed in an independent cohort of patients by quantitative DNA polymerase chain reaction (DNA-PCR), an assay that is well suited for clinical application.
Analysis of the CGH findings in patients in whom induction chemotherapy failed compared with those in whom induction chemotherapy was successful identified the absence of biallelic TCRγ locus deletion (ABD), a characteristic of early thymocyte precursors before V(D)J recombination, as the most robust predictor of induction failure (P < .001). This feature was also associated with markedly inferior event-free (P = .002) and overall survival (P < .001) rates: 25% versus 58% and 25% versus 72%, respectively. Using a rapid and inexpensive quantitative DNA-PCR assay, we validated ABD as a predictor of a poor response to induction chemotherapy in an independent series of patients.
Lymphoblasts from children with T-ALL should be evaluated at diagnosis for deletion within the TCRγ locus. Patients lacking biallelic deletion, which confers a high probability of induction failure with contemporary therapy, should be assigned to alternative therapy in the context of a prospective clinical trial.
Despite advances in treatment and outcomes for patients with pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), there continue to be subsets of patients who are refractory to standard chemotherapy and hematopoietic stem cell transplant. Therefore, novel gene targets for therapy are needed to further advance treatment for this disease. RNA interference technology has identified survivin as a potential therapeutic target. Survivin, a member of the inhibitor of apoptosis (IAP) proteins and chromosome passenger complex, is expressed in hematologic malignancies and overexpressed in relapsed pediatric ALL. Our studies show that survivin is uniformly expressed at high levels in multiple pediatric ALL cell lines. Furthermore, silencing of survivin expression in pediatric ALL cell lines as well as primary leukemic blasts reduces viability of these cells. This includes cell lines derived from patients with relapsed disease featuring cytogenetic anomalies such as t(12;21), Philadelphia chromosome t(9;22), t(1;19) as well as a cell line carrying t(17;19) from a patient with de novo ALL. Furthermore, inhibition of survivin increases p53-dependent apoptosis that can be rescued by inhibition of p53. Finally, a screen of randomly selected primary patient samples confirms that survivin-specific small interfering RNA and survivin-targeted drug, YM155, effectively reduce viability of leukemic blasts.
RNAi; targeted therapy; IAP
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) treatment regimes are amongst the longest, most intensive and complex used in hematooncology. Despite this, while treatment of pediatric ALL is a success story, we are far from being able to ensure a durable response in adult ALL. This is not due to failure of induction therapy as a complete remission (CR) is achieved in over 90% of patients. However the challenge remains in ensuring a sustained remission. Furthermore in the face of relapsed disease, salvage therapies currently offer a poor chance of a good outcome. This article reviews the novel agents which show the most promise in the treatment of adult ALL.
acute lymphoblastic leukemia; therapy; developments
High-dose methotrexate (HDMTX) is a component of most treatment protocols for childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), yet recent studies of receptor-mediated transport and saturable polyglutamylation have questioned its rationale. To investigate this in vivo, methotrexate and its active polyglutamated metabolites (MTX-PG) were measured in bone marrow blasts obtained from 101 children randomized to single-agent therapy with either HDMTX (1 g/m2 per 24 h i.v., n = 47) or low-dose MTX (LDMTX, 30 mg/m2 by mouth every 6 h x 6, n = 54), before remission induction therapy. Blast concentrations of total MTX-PGs (median 460 vs 1380 pmol/10(9) cells) and of long-chain MTX-glu4-6 were both significantly higher after HDMTX (P < 0.001). With either treatment, MTX-PGs were significantly higher in B-lineage blasts than in T-lineage blasts (LDMTX P = 0.001, HDMTX P = 0.03). In a multiple regression analysis of B-lineage ALL, blast MTX-PG was significantly related to MTX dose (or plasma MTX concentration), lymphoblast ploidy (hyperdiploid > nonhyperdiploid), and percentage S-phase. This is the first evidence that HDMTX achieves higher MTX-PG concentrations in ALL blasts in vivo, establishing a rationale for HDMTX in the treatment of childhood ALL, especially T-lineage or nonhyperdiploid B-lineage ALL, disease characteristics associated with a poor prognosis on conventional therapy.
Antisera have been raised to human leukemic blast cells from individual patients in mice rendered tolerant with cyclophosphamide to remission leukocytes from the same individual. 10 antisera were raised against acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) cells and 5 antisera were raised against acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) cells. Antisera to AML cells were absorbed with ALL cells, and antisera to ALL cells were absorbed with AML cells. Unabsorbed and absorbed antisera as well as antisera raised in nontolerant mice were tested for cytotoxicity against various cells of a panel containing myeloblasts from 35 patients with AML, lymphoblasts from 7 patients with ALL, myeloblasts from 7 patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) in blast crisis, peripheral blood leukocytes from 12 patients with acute leukemia in remission and 30 nonleukemic patients, and nucleated bone marrow cells from 10 nonleukemic patients. Unabsorbed antisera to AML or ALL cells raised in tolerant mice were highly cytotoxic to leukemic blasts cells but significantly less cytotoxic to remission and control cells. Antisera to AML cells absorbed with ALL cells retained measurable cytotoxicity against AML cells but were not cytotoxic to ALL cells or control cells. Similarly, antisera to ALL cells absorbed with AML cells retained significant cytotoxicity only to ALL cells. Control antisera raised in nontolerant mice were cytotoxic to all cells tested. Although species specific, histocompatibility, differentiation, maturation, and cell cycle-associated antigens may be responsible in part for the cytotoxic activity of the unabsorbed antisera, the absorbed antisera are probably detecting antigens specific for their leukemic cell type.
Hyperglycemia adversely affects outcomes in adult patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), but its impact on children with this disease is unknown. We evaluated the relationship between hyperglycemia during remission induction therapy and clinical outcomes among pediatric patients with ALL. We reviewed the records of patients enrolled on four consecutive ALL protocols (Total Therapy protocols XIIIA, XIIIB, XIV, and XV) at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital from 1991 to 2007 and identified those who experienced hyperglycemia (glucose ≥200 mg/dL) during remission induction. Complete remission rates at the end of induction, event free survival, overall survival, cumulative incidence of relapse, and occurrence of infections were compared between those who did and did not experience hyperglycemia. Of 871 patients analyzed, 141 (16%) experienced hyperglycemia during remission induction. Patients with hyperglycemia were significantly older than the other patients (p<0.0001). There was no significant difference in complete remission rate (p=0.92), event-free survival (p=0.80), overall survival (p=0.28), cumulative incidence of relapse (p=0.59), or in the probability or types of infection between patients who did and did not experience hyperglycemia. Pediatric patients with or without hyperglycemia during remission induction for ALL have similar clinical outcome. Occurrence of hyperglycemia does not warrant alteration of the antileukemic regimen.
Pediatric Oncology; Acute lymphoblastic leukemia; Infections; Hyperglycemia; Supportive care
BCR-ABL fusion gene t(9;22)(q34;q11) occurs in only 3% of pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) cases. Previously, less than 40% of Philadelphia-positive ALL patients were cured with intensive chemotherapy. The use of imatinib (340 mg/m2/day) added to an intensive chemotherapy regimen has improved the outcome in this population at 3 years to an event-free survival of 80%. Imatinib treatment alone was administered after remission induction chemotherapy to a patient with Philadelphia-positive ALL who presented with serious chemotherapy toxicity, so that intensive chemotherapy could not be maintained. This is the only patient in the literature who survived remission for more than 2.5 years with imatinib treatment only.
Imatinib; Pediatrics; Philadelphia-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia
New genetic markers for adult acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) have been found to have prognostic impact, such as the lymphoid transcription factor gene IKZF1 alterations, which are associated with a high rate of leukemic relapse in B-ALL. Although complete remission rates by induction chemotherapy in ALL are now high, the long-term survival is still disappointing. Improvements in the survival outcome of ALL have been observed in young adults as a result of the use of pediatric inspired regimens and the broadening of the number of patients who are eligible for allogeneic SCT. Development of new and less toxic agents also provide promise to improve the outcome in adult ALL, such as tyrosine kinase inhibitors in Ph-positive ALL, rituximab in CD20-positive disease, blinatumomab in precursor B-ALL and nelarabine in T-lineage ALL. Challenges for the future are to implement genomic profiling into the clinical setting to guide risk stratification and providing novel targets for tailored therapies.
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia; Genetic alteration; Philadelphia chromosome; Tyrosine kinase inhibitor; Monoclonal antibodies; Stem cell transplantation
Residual disease or rapidity of response to induction therapy is among the most powerful predictors of outcome in pediatric Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL).
Utilizing a multiparameter flow cytometric chemosensitivity assay (FCCA), we studied the relationship between in vitro drug sensitivity of diagnostic leukemic blasts from 30 children with ALL and rapidity of response to induction therapy. We also analyzed the in vitro drug sensitivity of de novo leukemic blasts among various clinical subsets.
Compared to rapid early responders (RER), slow early responders (SER) had a significantly greater in vitro drug resistance to Dexamethasone (DEX) (P = 0.04) and Prednisone (P = 0.05). The studies with all other drugs showed a non-significant trend with the SER having a higher in vitro drug resistance compared to the RER. Risk group stratified analyses indicated that in vitro resistance to Asparaginase (ASP), DEX, and Vincristine (VCR) were each significantly related to having very high risk ALL. Additionally, a significantly higher in vitro drug resistance to ASP and VCR was associated with unfavorable lymphoblast genetics and ultimate relapse.
Our data indicate that this FCCA is a potentially simple and rapid method to detect inherent resistance to initial ALL therapy very early in induction, thus allowing for treatment modification shortly thereafter.
Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia; childhood; in vitro drug resistance; flow cytometry; chemosensitivity assay; response to induction
Most patients with acute lymphocytic leukemia (all) are reported to have acquired chromosomal abnormalities in their leukemic bone marrow cells. Many established chromosome rearrangements have been described, and their associations with specific clinical, biologic, and prognostic features are well defined. However, approximately 30% of pediatric and 50% of adult patients with all do not have cytogenetic abnormalities of clinical significance. Despite significant improvements in outcome for pediatric all, therapy fails in approximately 25% of patients, and these failures often occur unpredictably in patients with a favorable prognosis and “good” cytogenetics at diagnosis.
It is well known that karyotype analysis in hematologic malignancies, although genome-wide, is limited because of altered cell kinetics (mitotic rate), a propensity of leukemic blasts to undergo apoptosis in culture, overgrowth by normal cells, and chromosomes of poor quality in the abnormal clone. Array comparative genomic hybridization (acgh—“microarray”) has a greatly increased genomic resolution over classical cytogenetics. Cytogenetic microarray, which uses genomic dna, is a powerful tool in the analysis of unbalanced chromosome rearrangements, such as copy number gains and losses, and it is the method of choice when the mitotic index is low and the quality of metaphases is suboptimal. The copy number profile obtained by microarray is often called a “molecular karyotype.”
In the present study, microarray was applied to 9 retrospective cases of pediatric all either with initial high-risk features or with at least 1 relapse. The conventional karyotype was compared to the “molecular karyotype” to assess abnormalities as interpreted by classical cytogenetics. Not only were previously undetected chromosome losses and gains identified by microarray, but several karyotypes interpreted by classical cytogenetics were shown to be discordant with the microarray results. The complementary use of microarray and conventional cytogenetics would allow for more sensitive, comprehensive, and accurate analysis of the underlying genetic profile, with concomitant improvement in prognosis and treatment, not only for pediatric all, but for neoplastic disorders in general.
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia; chromosomes; microarray; acgh
Over the last 25 years, donor source, conditioning, graft-versus-host disease prevention and supportive care for children undergoing hematopoeitic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) have changed dramatically. HSCT indications for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) now include high-risk patients in first and subsequent remission. There is a large burden of infectious and pre-HSCT morbidities, due to myelosuppressive therapy required for remission induction. We hypothesized that, despite these trends, overall survival (OS) had increased.
A retrospective audit of allogeneic pediatric HSCT for ALL was performed in our institution over 25 years. Outcomes for 136 HSCTs were analyzed in three consecutive 8-year periods (Period 1: 1/1/1984–31/8/1992, Period 2: 1/9/1992–30/4/2001, Period 3: 1/5/2001–31/12/2009).
Despite a significant increase in unrelated donor HSCT, event-free and OS over 25 years improved significantly. (EFS 31.6–64.8%, P = 0.0027; OS 41.8–78.9%, P < 0.0001) Concurrently, TRM dropped from 33% to 5% (P = 0.0004) whilst relapse rate was static (P = 0.07). TRM reduced significantly for matched sibling and unrelated cord blood transplantation (UCT) in Period 3 compared with earlier periods (P = 0.036, P = 0.0098, respectively). Factors leading to improved survival in patients undergoing UCT include better matching, higher total nucleated cell doses, and significantly faster neutrophil engraftment. Length of initial HSCT admission was similar over time.
EFS and OS have increased significantly despite heightened HSCT complexity. This survival gain was due to TRM reduction. Contemporary patients have benefited from refined donor selection and improved supportive care. Overall rates of leukemic relapse post-HSCT are unchanged, and remain the focus for improvement.
hematopoeitic stem cell transplant; lymphoblastic leukemia; outcomes; pediatric acute survival; transplant-related mortality
The augmented BFM regimen improves outcome for children with NCI high acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Patient age, sex, and presenting white blood cell count (WBC) can be used to identify a subset of approximately 12% of children with B-precursor ALL that had a 5-year continuous complete remission (CCR) rate of only about 50% on earlier Pediatric Oncology Group (POG) trials.
Children’s Oncology Group trial P9906 evaluated a modified augmented BFM regimen in 267 patients with particularly high risk B-precursor ALL. Minimal residual disease (MRD) was assessed in blood at day 8 and in marrow at day 29 of Induction and correlated with outcome.
The 5-year CCR probability for patients in P9906 was significantly better than that observed for similar patients on POG trials 8602/9006 (62.2 ±3.7% versus 50.6 ±2.4%; p=0.0007) but similar to POG 9406 (63.5±2.4%; p=0.81). Interim analysis showed poor central nervous system (CNS) control, especially in patients with initial WBC ≥100,000/microliter. Day 29 marrow MRD positive (>=0.01%) vs. negative patients had 5 year CCR rates of 37.1±7.4% vs. 72.6±4.3%; day 8 blood MRD positive vs. negative patients had 5 year CCR rates of 57.1 ±4.6 % vs.83.6±6.3%. End induction marrow MRD predicted marrow but not CNS relapse. In multivariate analysis, day 29 MRD>0.01%, initial WBC≥100,000/µl, male gender, and day 8 blood MRD>0.01% were significant prognostic factors.
Augmented BFM therapy improved outcome for children with higher risk ALL. Day 8 blood and day 29 marrow MRD were strong prognostic factors in these patients.
Acute lymphocytic leukemia; Phase III clinical trial; Prognostic factors; Minimal residual disease
Although the overall prognosis in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) is good, outcome after relapse is poor. Recurrence is frequently characterised by the occurrence of disease at extramedullary sites such as the central nervous system and testes. Subpopulations of blasts able to migrate to such areas may have a survival advantage and give rise to disease recurrence. Gene expression profiling of 85 diagnostic pre-B-ALL bone marrow samples revealed higher 5T4 oncofoetal antigen transcript levels in cytogenetic high-risk subgroups of patients (p < 0.001). Flow cytometric analysis determined that bone marrow from relapse patients have a significantly higher percentage of 5T4 positive leukemic blasts than healthy donors (p = 0.005). The high-risk Sup-B15 pre-B-ALL line showed heterogeneity in 5T4 expression, and the derived, 5T4+ (Sup5T4) and 5T4− (Sup) subline cells, displayed differential spread to the omentum and ovaries following intraperitoneal inoculation of immunocompromised mice. Consistent with this, Sup5T4 compared to Sup cells show increased invasion in vitro concordant with increased LFA-1 and VLA-4 integrin expression, adhesion to extracellular matrix and secretion of matrix metalloproteases (MMP-2/-9). We also show that 5T4 positive Sup-B15 cells are susceptible to 5T4 specific superantigen antibody-dependent cellular toxicity providing support for targeted immunotherapy in high risk pre-B-ALL.
Pre-B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia; childhood cancer; 5T4 oncofoetal antigen; immunotherapy; CXCR4; CXCL12; chemotaxis; invasion
Allopurinol and urate oxidase are both effective in preventing or treating hyperuricemia during remission induction therapy for lymphoid malignancies, but their effect on concomitant anticancer drug therapy has not been compared.
We compared plasma methotrexate pharmacokinetics in pediatric patients with newly diagnosed acute lymphoblastic leukemia who received concomitant allopurinol (n=20) versus non-recombinant or recombinant urate oxidase (n=96) during high-dose methotrexate administration before conventional remission induction therapy.
The minimum plasma concentration of uric acid was significantly (p<0.0001) lower after treatment with urate oxidase as compared to allopurinol treatment. Methotrexate clearance was significantly higher (median, 117.1 vs. 91.1ml/min/m2, p=0.019) in patients receiving urate oxidase. A higher proportion of patients in the allopurinol group had elevated methotrexate plasma concentrations (36% vs. 7%, p=0.003), and experienced mucositis (45% vs. 16%, p=0.003) after methotrexate treatment than those in the rasburicase group.
The lower rate of methotrexate clearance in patients receiving allopurinol likely reflects a less potent hypouricemic effect of allopurinol, leading to precipitation of uric acid in renal tubules. Hence, during remission induction therapy for lymphoid malignancies, renally-excreted drugs should be monitored closely, especially in patients receiving allopurinol.
methotrexate; acute lymphoblastic leukemia; hyperuricemia; allopurinol; urate oxidase
Although the majority of children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) are cured with current therapy, the event-free survival (EFS) of infants with ALL, particularly those with mixed lineage leukemia (MLL) gene rearrangements, is only 30% to 40%. Relapse has been the major source of treatment failure for these patients. The parallel Children's Cancer Group (CCG) 1953 and Pediatric Oncology Group (POG) 9407 studies were designed to test the hypothesis that more intensive therapy, including dose intensification of chemotherapy, and hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation (HSCT) would improve the outcome for this group of patients.
Patients and Methods
One hundred eighty-nine infants (CCG 1953, n = 115; POG 9407, n = 74) were enrolled between October 1996 and August 2000. For infants with the MLL gene rearrangement and an appropriate donor, HSCT was the preferred treatment on CCG 1953 and investigator option on POG 9407 after completion of the second phase of therapy. Fifty-three infants underwent HSCT.
The 5-year EFS rate was 48.8% (95% CI, 33.9% to 63.7%) in patients who received HSCT and 48.7% (95% CI, 33.8% to 63.6%) in patients treated with chemotherapy alone (P = .60). Transplantation outcomes were not affected by the preparatory regimen or donor source.
Our data suggest that routine use of HSCT for infants with MLL-rearranged ALL is not indicated. However, limited by small numbers, this study should not be considered the definitive answer to this question.
Identify prognostic factors that influence outcome after unrelated donor bone marrow transplantation in children with acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
Patients and Methods
Included are 268 patients (age ≤ 18 years) with AML in second complete remission (n = 142), relapse (n = 90), or primary induction failure (n = 36) at transplantation. All patients received bone marrow grafts from an unrelated donor and a myeloablative conditioning regimen. Cox regression models were constructed to identify risk factors that influence outcome after transplantation.
In this analysis, the only risk factor that predicted leukemia recurrence and overall and leukemia-free survival was disease status at transplantation. The 5-year probabilities of leukemia-free survival were 45%, 20%, and 12% for patients who underwent transplantation at second complete remission, relapse, and primary induction failure, respectively. As expected, risk of acute but not chronic graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) was lower with T-cell–depleted bone marrow grafts; T-cell–depleted grafts were not associated with higher risks of leukemia recurrence. We observed similar risks of leukemia relapse in patients with and without acute and chronic GVHD.
Children who underwent transplantation in remission had a superior outcome compared with children who underwent transplantation during relapse or persistent disease. Nevertheless, 20% of children who underwent transplantation in relapse are long-term survivors, suggesting that unrelated donor bone marrow transplantation is an effective therapy in a significant proportion of children with recurrent or primary refractory AML.
A 16-year-old boy was detected with acute myeloid leukemia (AML – M0) with bone marrow pathology showing 85% blasts in February 07, 1997. He received two cycles of induction chemotherapy (3+7 protocol) with daunomycin and cytosar, following which he achieved incomplete remission with bone marrow aspirate showing 14% blasts. Subsequently, the patient received two cycles of high-dose cytosine arabinoside Ara-C and achieved remission. However, his disease relapsed on August 29, 1997. Peripheral blood smear showed 6% blast cells and bone marrow showed 40% blast cells. The patient refused further chemotherapy and/or bone marrow transplant and volunteered for Ayurvedic therapy (AYT) advocated by the author from September 09, 1997. Bone marrow studies done after six months of AYT indicated that the disease was in remission. The AYT was continued for five years and stopped. Thereafter, the patient received intermittent maintenance AYT for three months in the next two years. At present, the patient is normal and healthy and has completed 12 years of disease-free survival with AYT.
Ayurvedic; relapsed acute myeloid leukemia
Pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is the prototype for a drug-responsive malignancy. Although cure rates exceed 80%, considerable unexplained interindividual variability exists in treatment response.
Using a genome-wide approach, to assess the contribution of inherited genetic variation to therapy response and to identify germline single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with risk of minimal residual disease (MRD) after remission induction chemotherapy.
Design, Setting, and Patients
We performed a genome-wide interrogation of 476,796 germline SNPs to identify genotypes that predicted MRD in two independent cohorts of children with newly diagnosed ALL: 318 patients on St. Jude trials Total XIIIB and XV and 169 patients on a Children’s Oncology Group (COG) trial P9906.
Main Outcome Measures
MRD at the end of induction therapy, measured by flow cytometry.
There were 102 SNPs associated with MRD in both cohorts (P≤0.0125), including 5 SNPs in the interleukin 15 (IL15) gene. A high proportion, 21 of these 102 SNPs, also predicted hematologic relapse (P<0.05). Of 102 SNPs, 21 were also associated with antileukemic drug disposition, generally linking MRD eradication with greater drug exposure. In total, 63 of 102 SNPs were also associated with early response, relapse, or with drug disposition.
Host genetic variability affected treatment response for childhood ALL, and germline variants may exert their effects on MRD by effects on leukemic cell biology and on host disposition of antileukemic drugs.
Between 1980 and 2001, the United Kingdom Medical Research Council Childhood Leukemia Working Party has conducted 4 clinical trial in acute lymphoblastic leukemia, which have recruited a total of 6516 patients. UKALL VIII examined the role of daunorubicin in induction chemotherapy, and UKALL X examined the role of post-induction intensification. Both resulted in major improvement in the outcomes. UKALL XI examined the efficacy of different methods of CNS-directed therapy and the effects of an additional intensification. ALL97, which was initially based on the UKALL X D template (two intensification phases), examined the role of different steroids in induction and different thiopurines through continuing chemotherapy. A reappraisal of results from UKALL XI compared to other cooperative group results led to a redesign in 1999, which subsequently resulted in a major improvement in outcomes. Additionally, ALL97 and 97/99 demonstrated a significant advantage for the use of dexamethasone rather than prednisolone; although the use of 6-thioguanine resulted in fewer relapses, this advantage was offset by an increased incidence of deaths in remission. Over the era encompassed by these four trials there has been a major improvement in both event-free and overall survival for children in the UK with ALL.
acute leukemia; therapy; clinical trial
Studies on activated cell-signaling pathways responsible for neoplastic transformation are numerous in solid tumors and in adult leukemias. Despite of positive results in the evolution of pediatric hematopoietic neoplasias, there are some high-risk subtypes at worse prognosis. The aim of this study was to asses the expression and activation status of crucial proteins involved in cell-signaling pathways in order to identify molecular alterations responsible for the proliferation and/or escape from apoptosis of leukemic blasts. The quantitative and qualitative expression and activation of Erk-1, c-Jun, Caspase8, and Gadd45a was analyzed, by immunocytochemical (ICC) and western blotting methods, in bone marrow blasts of 72 patients affected by acute myeloid leukemia (AML), T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and stage IV non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL). We found an upregulation of Erk-1, Caspase8, c-Jun, and Gadd45a proteins with a constitutive activation in 95.8%, 91.7%, 86.2%, 83.4% of analyzed specimens, respectively. It is worth noting that all AML patients showed an upregulation of all proteins studied and the high expression of GADD45a was associated to the lowest DFS median (p = 0.04). On univariate analysis, only Erk-1 phosphorylation status was found to be correlated with a significantly shorter 5-years DFS in all disease subgroups (p = 0.033) and the lowest DFS median in ALL/NHL subgroup (p = 0.04). Moreover, the simultaneous activation of multiple kinases, as we found for c-Jun and Erk-1 (r = 0.26; p = 0.025), might synergistically enhance survival and proliferation potential of leukemic cells. These results demonstrate an involvement of these proteins in survival of blast cells and, consequently, on relapse percentages of the different subgroups of patients.
The stratification of patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) into treatment risk groups based on quantification of minimal residual disease (MRD) after induction therapy is now well accepted but the relapse rate of about 20% in intermediate risk patients remains a challenge. The purpose of this study was to further improve stratification by MRD measurement at an earlier stage. MRD was measured in stored day 15 bone marrow samples for pediatric patients enrolled on ANZCHOG ALL8 using Real-time Quantitative PCR to detect immunoglobulin and T-cell receptor gene rearrangements with the same assays used at day 33 and day 79 in the original MRD stratification. MRD levels in bone marrow at day 15 and 33 were highly predictive of outcome in 223 precursor B-ALL patients (log rank Mantel-Cox tests both P<0.001) and identified patients with poor, intermediate and very good outcomes. The combined use of MRD at day 15 (≥1×10−2) and day 33 (≥5×1−5) identified a subgroup of medium risk precursor B-ALL patients as poor MRD responders with 5 year relapse-free survival of 55% compared to 84% for other medium risk patients (log rank Mantel-Cox test, P = 0.0005). Risk stratification of precursor B-ALL but not T-ALL could be improved by using MRD measurement at day 15 and day 33 instead of day 33 and day 79 in similar BFM-based protocols for children with this disease.
DNA from 135 patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) at various clinical stages and Philadelphia (Ph1) chromosome positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia was investigated for alterations in a variety of proto-oncogenes which have been implicated in the evolution of CML from its chronic phase to blast crisis. The most common genetic change found in the evolution of typical Ph1 chromosome positive CML to blast crisis was an alteration of the p53 gene involving either a rearrangement, a deletion, or a point mutation in the coding sequence of the gene. Alterations of the p53 gene were found in the myeloid and the rare megakaryocytic variant of blast crisis but were absent in the lymphoid leukemic transformants. Gross structural alterations were seen in 11 of 54 (20%) of myeloid or unknown phenotypes of blast crisis and in only 1 of 44 chronic phase cases. Eight examples of mutations in the open reading frame of the p53 gene at codons 49, 53, 60, 140, 202, 204, 238, and 239 were observed in blast crisis patients. Mutations in the N-RAS gene were rare in typical blast crisis (2 of 27 cases) but were found in megakaryocytic and Ph1 negative myeloid blast crisis. We concluded that heterogeneous alterations in the p53 gene and occasionally in the N-RAS genes accompany the evolution of chronic phase CML to blast crisis.