Standard versus alternative myeloablative conditioning regimens in allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation for high-risk acute leukemia

Andrea Mengarelli, AnnaPaola Iori, Cesare Guglielmi, Atelda Romano, Raffaella Cerretti, Concetta Torromeo, Alessandra Micozzi, Susanna Fenu, Luca Laurenti, Vittorio Donato, Lidia De Felice, William Arcese
Haematologica 2002, 87 (1): 52-8

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: To analyze the results of standard versus alternative myeloablative conditioning regimens in allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation for high-risk acute leukemia.

DESIGN AND METHODS: From October 1986 to February 2000, 104 consecutive patients (male: n = 63; median age: 21, range 1.3-44.2 years) with high-risk acute leukemia underwent a non-T-cell depleted graft from an HLA-identical sibling following a standard or alternative myeloablative conditioning regimen. Sixty patients were affected by acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and 44 by acute myeloid leukemia (AML); the phase at transplant was >= 2nd complete remission (CR) in 76, untreated 1st relapse with < 20% blasts in 11, refractory leukemia or overt resistant relapse in 17. Pre-transplant regimens consisting of either 12 Gy fractionated total body irradiation (TBI) or 16 mg/kg busulphan (BU) combined with cyclophosphamide (CY) were defined standard (n = 38), whereas all other myeloablative regimens (TBI plus 60 mg/kg etoposide and three-drug combinations) were considered alternative (n = 66).

RESULTS: No significant differences in terms of baseline characteristics, incidence and severity of either acute or chronic graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) were observed between the two groups, but a significantly higher proportion of patients prepared with an alternative regimen were not evaluable for chronic GVHD (36% vs 16%) (p = 0.026). Sixty-six patients died, 38 of relapse, 26 of transplant-related mortality (TRM) and 2 of other causes. Thirty-eight patients are still alive with a follow-up ranging from 0.7 to 13.8 years (median, 7.1 years); only 1 of 39 patients who relapsed after transplant is alive in CR at 5.7 years from relapse. At the median follow-up, the actuarial probabilities of overall survival, relapse and TRM for patients conditioned with standard and alternative regimens are respectively 52% vs 25% (95% CI, 36-68% vs 13-37%; p = 0.0163), 34% vs 58% (95% CI, 18-51% vs 43-73%; p = 0.0377) and 25% vs 32% (95% CI, 9-40% vs 19-44%; p = ns). After adjustment for diagnosis, age, period, leukemia phase, duration of 1st CR, GVHD prophylaxis and donor-recipient sex combination, the multivariate analysis showed that alternative regimens are associated with a significantly worse survival (hazard ratio 2.31; p = 0.0071) and relapse rate (hazard ratio 2.75; p = 0.0187).

INTERPRETATION AND CONCLUSIONS: From this retrospective analysis we can conclude that the alternative myeloablative conditioning regimens we used did not improve the outcome of patients transplanted for high-risk acute leukemia.

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