Successful treatment of infantile hemangiomas with interferon-alpha-2b

E Chang, A Boyd, C C Nelson, D Crowley, T Law, K M Keough, J Folkman, R A Ezekowitz, V P Castle
Journal of Pediatric Hematology/oncology 1997, 19 (3): 237-44

PURPOSE: Hemangiomas are benign tumors occurring in 10% of infants. A small percentage are complicated by blockage of vital structures, consumptive coagulopathy, or heart failure, resulting in a mortality of -20% of patients with complications. Here, we describe four infants with complicated hemangiomas responding to interferon-alpha-2b therapy.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: Four children with hemangiomas were treated with interferon-alpha-2b for complicating heart failure (1), visual impairment (2), or coagulopathy (1). Patients received interferon-alpha-2b alone or in conjunction with corticosteroid therapy over 2 to 9 months. Imaging studies and urinary basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) levels were used to monitor treatment response.

RESULTS: Three of four patients demonstrated involution of the hemangiomas with improvement in their coagulopathy or visual impairment. The fourth patient expired due to cardiac complications despite radiologic evidence of hemangioma involution. Side effects associated with interferon-alpha-2b treatment included elevated transaminases (2) and leukocytosis (2), which resolved upon completion of therapy. One patient developed mild gross motor delay (1), which improved after cessation of therapy. Decreased urinary bFGF levels correlated with hemangioma involution.

CONCLUSION: Interferon-alpha-2b therapy is an effective, well-tolerated treatment for complicated hemangiomas. Measurement of urinary bFGF levels may provide an objective method for monitoring treatment response.

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