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Semin Oncol. 1994 Dec;21(6 Suppl 16):33-8.

New perspectives in the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia by hematopoietic growth factors.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, University of Göttingen, Germany.


The application of hematopoietic growth factors in the treatment on acute myeloid leukemia (AML) may principally aim at shortening the period of treatment associated neutropenia and reducing the rate of infectious complications by their post-therapeutic administration but may also be used to increase the sensitivity of leukemic blasts to antileukemic therapy by pretherapeutic growth stimulation. Both aspects were addressed in subsequent clinical phase II studies and preclinical investigations. In a first clinical trial, 36 patients with high-risk AML received granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) after successful cytoreductive chemotherapy and experienced a shortening of the period of post-therapeutic neutropenia by 6 to 9 days, leading to a significant reduction of treatment-associated deaths from 39% to 14%. In preclinical studies an enhancement of the cytotoxicity of cytosine arabinoside (AraC) on leukemic blasts could be shown by pretreatment with GM-CSF or IL-3. Investigations on the impact of hematopoietic growth factors on the intracellular metabolism of AraC indicated that this effect was primarily mediated by an increase in the activity of DNA-polymerase-alpha. The evaluation of different doses of AraC showed the most marked increase after the combination of GM-CSF with conventional rather than high doses of AraC. Based on these preclinical experiments, a prospective randomized trial was subsequently initiated investigating the effect of GM-CSF before and during induction, consolidation, and the first two cycles of maintenance chemotherapy in newly diagnosed AML. This ongoing trial has enrolled 67 patients at the current time. An early interim analysis showed no differences in remission rates but a tendency toward a longer remission duration in patients receiving GM-CSF. These data indicate that hematopoietic growth factors like GM-CSF in particular may provide a new perspective in the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia with the possibility of reducing treatment associated mortality and perhaps of increasing the efficacy of antileukemic treatment.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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