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1.  Decitabine as a First-Line Treatment for Older Adults Newly Diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia 
Yonsei Medical Journal  2016;58(1):35-42.
Decitabine, a DNA hypomethylating agent, was recently approved for use in Korea for older adults with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) who are not candidates for standard chemotherapy. This study aimed to evaluate the role of decitabine as a first-line treatment for older adults with AML.
Materials and Methods
Twenty-four patients with AML who received at least one course of decitabine (20 mg/m2/d intravenously for 5 days every 4 weeks) as a first-line therapy at Severance Hospital were evaluated retrospectively.
The median age of the patients was 73.5 years. The longest follow-up duration was 502 days. A total of 113 cycles of treatment were given to 24 patients, and the median number of cycles was four (range, 1–14). Thirteen patients dropped out because of death, no or loss of response, patient refusal, or transfer to another hospital. Twenty-one (87.5%) and 12 (50%) patients completed the second and fourth cycles, respectively, and responses to treatment were evaluated in 17. A complete response (CR) or CR with incomplete blood-count recovery was achieved in six (35.3%) patients, and the estimated median overall survival was 502 days. Ten patients developed grade >2 hematologic or non-hematologic toxicities. In univariate analysis, bone marrow blasts, lactate dehydrogenase, serum ferritin level, and bone marrow iron were significantly associated with response to decitabine.
Five-day decitabine treatment showed acceptable efficacy in older patients with AML who are unfit for conventional chemotherapy, with a CR rate 35.3% and about a median overall survival of 18 months.
PMCID: PMC5122650  PMID: 27873493
Decitabine; elderly; AML; treatment
2.  Pretreatment Lymphopenia, Poor Performance Status, and Early Courses of Therapy Are Risk Factors for Severe Bacterial Infection in Patients with Multiple Myeloma during Treatment with Bortezomib-based Regimens 
Journal of Korean Medical Science  2016;31(4):510-518.
The aim of this study was to identify the risk factors associated with severe bacterial infection (SBI) in multiple myeloma (MM) patients during treatment with bortezomib-based regimens. A total of 98 patients with MM were evaluated during 427 treatment courses. SBI occurred in 57.1% (56/98) of the patients and during 19.0% (81/427) of the treatment courses. In the multivariate analysis for the factors associated with the development of SBI in each treatment course, poor performance status (Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group ≥ 2, P < 0.001), early course of therapy (≤ 2 courses, P < 0.001), and pretreatment lymphopenia (absolute lymphocyte count < 1.0 × 109/L, P = 0.043) were confirmed as independent risk factors. The probability of developing SBI were 5.1%, 14.9%, 23.9% and 59.5% in courses with 0, 1, 2, and 3 risk factors, respectively (P < 0.001). In conclusion, we identified three pretreatment risk factors associated with SBI in each course of bortezomib treatment. Therefore, MM patients with these risk factors should be more closely monitored for the development of SBI during bortezomib-based treatment.
Graphical Abstract
PMCID: PMC4810332  PMID: 27051233
Multiple Myeloma; Infection; Bortezomib; Lymphopenia; Performance Status
3.  Enhanced autophagy in cytarabine arabinoside-resistant U937 leukemia cells and its potential as a target for overcoming resistance 
Molecular Medicine Reports  2016;13(4):3433-3440.
Autophagy is a lysosomal degradation mechanism that is essential for cell survival, differentiation, development, and homeostasis. Autophagy protects cells from various stresses, including protecting normal cells from harmful metabolic conditions, and cancer cells from chemotherapeutics. In the current study, a cytarabine arabinoside (Ara-C)-sensitive U937 leukemia cell line and an Ara-C-resistant U937 (U937/AR) cell line were assessed for baseline autophagy activity by investigating the LC3-I conversion to LC3-II, performing EGFP-LC3 puncta, an acidic autophagolysosome assay, and measuring the expression of various autophagy-related genes. The results demonstrated significantly higher autophagic activity in the U937/AR cells compared with the U937 cells, when the cells were cultured with or without serum. Furthermore, an increase in the autophagic activity in starved U937/AR cells was demonstrated, compared with that in the starved U937 cells. Administration of an autophagy inhibitor demonstrated no change in cell death in the two cell lines when cultured with serum, however, it induced cell death regardless of the Ara-C sensitivity when the cell lines were cultured without serum. In addition, the U937 cells demonstrated an Ara-C resistance when cultured without serum. Co-treatment with Ara-C and the autophagy inhibitor significantly induced cell death in the U937/AR and Ara-C-sensitive U937 cells. In conclusion, autophagy serves an important role in protecting U937 cells from Ara-C and in the development of Ara-C resistance. Inhibition of autophagy combined with the Ara-C treatment in the U937 cells augmented the anti-leukemic effect of Ara-C and overcame Ara-C resistance, suggesting that autophagy may be an important therapeutic target to further improve the treatment outcome in patients with acute myeloid leukemia.
PMCID: PMC4805098  PMID: 26935591
autophagy; Ara-C-resistant; U937; acute myeloid leukemia; treatment
4.  The Modified Glasgow Prognostic Scores as a Predictor in Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma Treated with R-CHOP Regimen 
Yonsei Medical Journal  2014;55(6):1568-1575.
The modified Glasgow Prognostic Score (mGPS) consisting of serum C-reactive protein and albumin levels, shows significant prognostic value in several types of tumors. We evaluated the prognostic significance of mGPS in 285 patients with diffuse large B cell lymphoma (DLBCL), retrospectively.
Materials and Methods
According to mGPS classification, 204 patients (71.5%) had an mGPS of 0, 57 (20%) had an mGPS of 1, and 24 (8.5%) had an mGPS of 2.
Our study found that high mGPS were associated with poor prognostic factors including older age, extranodal involvement, advanced disease stage, unfavorable International Prognostic Index scores, and the presence of B symptoms. The complete response (CR) rate after 3 cycles of R-CHOP chemotherapy was higher in patients with mGPS of 0 (53.8%) compared to those with mGPS of 1 (33.3%) or 2 (25.0%) (p=0.001). Patients with mGPS of 0 had significantly better overall survival (OS) than those with mGPS=1 and those with mGPS=2 (p=0.036). Multivariate analyses revealed that the GPS score was a prognostic factor for the CR rate of 3 cycle R-CHOP therapy (p=0.044) as well as OS (p=0.037).
mGPS can be considered a potential prognostic factor that may predict early responses to R-CHOP therapy in DLBCL patients.
PMCID: PMC4205696  PMID: 25323893
Modified Glasgow Prognostic Score; diffuse large B cell lymphoma; prognostic factor
5.  Serum microRNA-21 as a Potential Biomarker for Response to Hypomethylating Agents in Myelodysplastic Syndromes 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e86933.
Identification of biomarkers that predict responses to hypomethylating agents (HMAs) will allow optimal strategies for epigenetic therapy in myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) to be established. Serum miR-21 was quantitatively measured in 58 MDS patients treated with HMAs and 14 healthy controls. Serum miR-192 was an internal control, and diagnostic performance was evaluated according to receiver operating characteristics (ROCs). ROC analysis indicated that serum miR-21 levels differentiated responders from non-responders with an area under the curve of 0.648 (95% confidence, 0.49 to 0.72). The baseline level of serum miR-21 was significantly lower in the responder group than in the non-responder group (P = 0.041). The overall response rate (ORR) of the high miR-21 group was significantly lower than that of the low miR-21 group (41.2 vs. 73.2%, P = 0.021). Progression-free survival (PFS) was significantly inferior in the high group versus the low group (14.0 vs. 44.5 months, P = 0.001). Multivariate analyses revealed that the initial serum miR-21 level (P = 0.001) and circulating blasts (P = 0.007) were prognostic factors for PFS. Serum miR-21 level was significantly associated with ORR and PFS in MDS patients treated with HMAs. Although validation with a large prospective study is required, serum miR-21 is a potential biomarker of epigenetic therapy in MDS patients.
PMCID: PMC3913572  PMID: 24503739
6.  Karyotypic change between diagnosis and relapse as a predictor of salvage therapy outcome in AML patients 
Blood research  2013;48(1):24-30.
Only a few patients who experience AML relapse derive lasting benefit from re-induction therapy. The utility of reassessing the disease karyotype at relapse is unclear. The main goals of this study were to identify prognostic factors for AML relapse and to determine the prognostic utility of karyotypic change between diagnosis and relapse as a variable for predicting response to salvage therapy for relapsed AML.
This retrospective study included 58 patients with relapsed AML treated at the Yonsei University College of Medicine between 2005 and 2010. Karyotypes at both diagnosis and relapse were available for 45 patients (77%). A change in karyotype at relapse was observed in 17 of 45 cases (37%), and no change was noted in 28 of 45 cases (62%).
Karyotypic changes between diagnosis and relapse were associated with the response rate (RR) to salvage therapy (P=0.016). Overall survival (OS) and event-free survival (EFS) in the group with karyotypic changes between diagnosis and relapse were significantly different from those with no karyotypic changes (P=0.004 and P=0.010, respectively). We applied multiple multivariate Cox regression analyses to identify independent prognostic factors for overall response (OR), OS, and EFS. A change in karyotype between diagnosis and relapse was significantly associated with OS (P=0.023; RR=2.655) and EFS (P=0.033; RR=2.831).
Karyotypic changes between the diagnosis and relapse of AML could be used to predict outcomes and tailor clinical and biological therapeutic strategies for relapsed AML patients.
PMCID: PMC3624999  PMID: 23589791
Karyotype; Prognosis; Salvage therapy; Acute myeloid leukemia
7.  Aurora A kinase expression is increased in leukemia stem cells, and a selective Aurora A kinase inhibitor enhances Ara-C-induced apoptosis in acute myeloid leukemia stem cells 
The Korean Journal of Hematology  2012;47(3):178-185.
The overexpression of Aurora A kinase (AurA) has been reported in various malignancies, including acute myeloid leukemia (AML). However, the expression of AurA and the effects of AurA inhibition in cancer stem cells are not yet fully understood. We investigated the expression and inhibition of AurA in AML stem cells (CD34+/CD38-).
Expression of AurA was investigated in cell lines (NB4 and KG1) that express high levels of CD34 and low levels of CD38. Primary AML cells were harvested from 8 patients. The expression of AurA and cell death induced by inhibition of AurA were analyzed in CD34+/CD38- cells.
AurA was shown to be overexpressed in both primary AML cells and leukemia stem cells (LSCs) compared to normal hematopoietic stem cells. Inhibition of AurA plus cytarabine treatment in LSCs resulted in increased cytotoxicity compared to cytarabine treatment alone. Additional stimulation with granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) increased the cell death caused by AurA inhibition plus cytarabine treatment.
To our knowledge, this is the first report describing increased expression of AurA in LSCs. Our results suggest that selective AurA inhibition may be used to reduce LSCs, and this reduction may be enhanced by stimulation with G-CSF. Further exploration of relationship between nuclear factor kappa-B and AurA inhibition and the potential of AurA inhibition for use in leukemia treatment is needed.
PMCID: PMC3464334  PMID: 23071472
Acute myeloid leukemia; Leukemia stem cell; Aurora kinase
8.  Myeloperoxidase Expression in Acute Myeloid Leukemia Helps Identifying Patients to Benefit from Transplant 
Yonsei Medical Journal  2012;53(3):530-536.
Despite extensive study, the use of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) vary considerably. The decision of which of these options to choose is complex and depends on both clinical and molecular variables as well as the availability and histocompatability of donor stem cells. So far there is no clear explanation on whether the expression of myeloperoxidase (MPO) relates to the prognosis of AML.
Materials and Methods
We retrospectively analyzed the prognostic significance of the MPO expression in the 140 patients with diagnosed AML treated at a single institution.
In our study, MPO expression was associated with disease-free survival (DFS) and transplant was beneficial to overcome a negative prognostic effect of MPO-negative at diagnosis based upon the result that the DFS in patients received transplants are not significant between the MPO-positive group and MPO-negative group although DFS in all patients was different according to MPO expression.
MPO expression at diagnosis helps to choose therapy for each AML patient and can differentiate AML patients who need transplantation.
PMCID: PMC3343448  PMID: 22476996
Myeloperoxidase; acute myeloid leukemia; prognostic factor; transplant
9.  Clinical significance of B cell-activating factor (BAFF) and a proliferation-inducing ligand (APRIL) in acute graft-versus-host disease after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation 
The Korean Journal of Hematology  2011;46(3):175-179.
BAFF (B cell-activating factor) and APRIL (a proliferation-inducing ligand) are members of the tumor necrosis factor family and promote B cell survival and proliferation. We evaluated the correlation between serum concentration of BAFF or APRIL and severity of acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD).
Fifteen patients who received allogeneic hematopoietic stem transplantation for leukemia and developed acute GVHD were enrolled. We determined serum concentrations of BAFF and APRIL at the onset of the first clinical manifestation of GVHD by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.
Nine patients had grade 2 acute GVHD, and 6 had grade 3-4 acute GVHD. The BAFF serum concentration was higher in patients with grade 3-4 acute GVHD (1,093.42 in grade 2 vs. 2,171.99 pg/mL in grade 3-4), although the difference was not significant (P=0.077). However, the ratio of BAFF serum concentration to absolute lymphocyte count (ALC) (BAFF/ALC) was significantly higher in patients with grade 3-4 acute GVHD (P=0.045). The APRIL serum concentration and APRIL/ALC ratio showed similar results (P=0.077 and P=0.013, respectively).
Patients with grade 3-4 acute GVHD had higher BAFF/ALC and APRIL/ALC ratios than patients with grade 2 acute GVHD. These findings suggest that B cells might play an important role in the development of acute GVHD, and that the BAFF and APRIL concentrations in serum might be significant predictive factors for estimating the severity of acute GVHD. Their clinical significance should be further evaluated in a larger patient population.
PMCID: PMC3208200  PMID: 22065972
B cell-activating factor (BAFF); A proliferation-inducing ligand (APRIL); Acute graft-versus-host disease; Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation
10.  Primary renal aspergillosis and renal stones in both kidneys associated with hematopoietic stem cell transplant 
The Korean Journal of Hematology  2010;45(4):275-278.
Invasive aspergillosis (IA) is a leading cause of infectious mortality in patients who have undergone a hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT); the mortality due to IA ranges from 70% to 93% in HSCT patients. Early diagnosis and treatment are the cornerstones for the good prognosis of IA. Primary renal aspergillosis is an extremely rare presentation in patients who have undergone HSCT, and the risk factor for this uncommon presentation is not well known. We report a patient who developed primary renal aspergillosis and renal stones in both the kidneys after HSCT. Invasive renal aspergillosis was diagnosed after a nephrectomy, which was performed to treat massive renal hematoma.
PMCID: PMC3023055  PMID: 21253431
Primary renal aspergillosis; Hematopoietic stem cell transplant; Renal stones

Results 1-10 (10)