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Leukemia. 1995 Oct;9(10):1680-4.

L-asparaginase may potentiate the leukemogenic effect of the epipodophyllotoxins.

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  • 1Department of Hematology-Oncology, St Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, TN 38105, USA.


The risk for induction of epipodophyllotoxin-related acute myeloid leukemia (AML) depends largely on the schedule of drug administration and, to a lesser degree, the cumulative dose. Concomitant use of other genotoxic drugs, such as alkylating agents and cisplatin, can increase the hazard further. We have treated 154 consecutive higher-risk cases of acute lymphoblastic leukemia in our recent Total Therapy Study XIII with an intensive post-remission regimen of chemotherapy that included etoposide given every other week or less often-a schedule associated with a relatively low cumulative incidence of secondary AML in our Study XI. Unexpectedly, four patients have developed secondary AML at 12 to 23 months from the start of treatment (median, 16 months). The 2-year cumulative risk estimate significantly exceeds that for 185 historical controls in Study XI whose continuation regimen included epipodophyllotoxins every other week: 5.4% (95% confidence interval, 0-11%) compared with 1.1% (0-2.6%), P = 0.046. Compared to patients treated in Study XI, those enrolled in Study XIII receive fewer scheduled doses of epipodophyllotoxin (48 (all etoposide) vs 63 (30 etoposide, 33 teniposide)) but 16 to 19 additional doses of L-asparaginase and eight additional doses of high-dose methotrexate, all within the week preceding etoposide treatment. We attribute the apparently increased rate of secondary AML in Study XIII to the use of L-asparaginase immediately before etoposide administration. On this schedule, the enzyme could increase systemic exposure to etoposide or its catechol metabolites and reduce the ability of cells to repair DNA damage.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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