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Br J Haematol. 2009 Nov;147(3):360-70. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2141.2009.07862.x. Epub 2009 Aug 19.

Immune function in children under chemotherapy for standard risk acute lymphoblastic leukaemia - a prospective study of 20 paediatric patients.

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Department of Paediatric Haematology/Oncology and Stem Cell Transplantation, Children's Hospital, University of Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany.


Multidrug chemotherapy is a highly effective treatment for paediatric acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), but at the same time compromises immunity of patients. Immune function in a homogenous cohort of 20 children with standard- and intermediate-risk ALL was analysed by immunophenotyping, intracellular cytokine staining, assessment of serum cytokine concentrations, T-cell receptor (TCR) repertoire diversity and thymic function. B-cells were most severely affected by chemotherapy, rapidly declined under induction and did not recover until the cessation of maintenance therapy. This recovery was paralleled by a relative increase in naive IgM(+)IgD(+)CD27(-) B-cells, indicating de novo B-cell generation as the major pathway for B-cell reconstitution. T- and Natural Killer-cells were less severely affected. Although numerically diminished by chemotherapy, they had partially recovered at the end of induction. Interestingly, CD4:CD8 ratio, distribution of naive versus memory T-cells, cytokine production, TCR-repertoire complexity and thymic function were all only marginally affected by chemotherapy. Patients receiving dexamethasone had significantly less IFNgamma(+) T-cells than those receiving prednisone. Our data show that during chemotherapy in standard- and intermediate-risk paediatric ALL patients the T-cell system remains relatively well preserved. Future studies will show if this effect can be exploited for inclusion of immunotherapy in standard ALL treatment protocols.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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