Sustained remissions of high-risk acute myeloid leukemia and myelodysplastic syndrome after reduced-intensity conditioning allogeneic hematopoietic transplantation: chronic graft-versus-host disease is the strongest factor improving survival

David Valcárcel, Rodrigo Martino, Dolores Caballero, Jesus Martin, Christelle Ferra, Jose B Nieto, Antonia Sampol, M Teresa Bernal, Jose L Piñana, Lourdes Vazquez, Jose M Ribera, Joan Besalduch, Jose M Moraleda, Dolores Carrera, M Salut Brunet, Jose A Perez-Simón, Jorge Sierra
Journal of Clinical Oncology 2008 February 1, 26 (4): 577-84

PURPOSE: Reduced-intensity conditioning (RIC) for allogeneic stem-cell transplantation (allo-SCT) reduces nonrelapse mortality (NRM). This reduction makes it possible for patients who are ineligible for high-dose myeloablative conditioning allo-SCT to benefit from graft-versus-leukemia reaction. In this multicenter, prospective study of patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and high-risk myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), we investigated the efficacy of RIC allo-SCT from a human leukocyte antigen-identical sibling by using a regimen that uses fludarabine and busulfan.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: Ninety-three patients with AML (n = 59) and MDS (n = 34) were included, and the median age was of 53 years. Follow-up for survivors was 43 months (range, 3 to 89 months). The conditioning regimen consisted of fludarabine (150 mg/m(2)) and oral busulfan (8 to 10 mg/kg). All except one patient received mobilized peripheral blood stem cells. Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) prophylaxis consisted of cyslosporine and methotrexate or mycophenolate mofetil.

RESULTS: The 100-day, 1-year, and 4-year incidences of NRM were 8, 16%, and 21%, respectively. The 1- and 4-year relapse cumulative incidences were 23% and 37%, respectively, and leukemia recurrence was the main cause of death. The 4-year disease-free survival (DFS) and overall survival (OS) rates were 43% and 45%, respectively. The 4-year cumulative incidence of chronic GVHD was 53% (45% extensive), and its development was the major factor associated with lower relapse incidence and improved DFS and OS.

CONCLUSION: Our results confirm the capacity of this RIC regimen to obtain long-term remissions in patients ineligible for a conventional allo-SCT. The results suggest an important role of the development of chronic GVHD in reducing relapse and improving DFS and OS.

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