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Eur J Haematol. 2012 Jan;88(1):78-86. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0609.2011.01695.x. Epub 2011 Oct 2.

Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia prophylaxis during maintenance therapy influences methotrexate/6-mercaptopurine dosing but not event-free survival for childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

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Department of Pediatrics, The University Hospital Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark.


Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (TMP/SMX) is used in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) to prevent Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP). We explored to which extent TMP/SMX influenced methotrexate (MTX)/6-mercaptopurine (6MP) dosage, myelosuppression, and event-free survival (EFS) during maintenance therapy. Of 447 study patients treated by the NOPHO ALL92 protocol, 120 patients received TMP/SMX continuously for 2-7 d/wk (TMP/SMX(2-7) ) and 287 patients never received TMP/SMX (TMP/SMX(never) ). Ten patients (all TMP/SMX(never) ) developed PCP, eight of which occurred within 7 months from the start of maintenance therapy. The TMP/SMX(2-7) group received lower oral 6MP doses than TMP/SMX(never) patients (50.6 vs. 63.9 mg/m(2) /d; P<0.001) but had lower absolute neutrophil counts (ANC) (median 1.7 vs. 2.0 × 10(9) /L; P<0.001). In Cox multivariate analysis, higher ANC levels (P=0.04) and male gender (P=0.06) were related to reduced EFS. ANC had no effect on EFS among TMP/SMX(2-7) patients (P=0.40) but did for TMP/SMX(never) patients (P=0.02). The difference in the effect on EFS between TMP/SMX(2-7) and TMP/SMX(never) patients was not significant (P=0.46). EFS did not differ between TMP/SMX(2-7) and TMP/SMX(never) patients (0.83 vs. 0.83; P=0.82). These results suggest that TMP/SMX is effective in preventing PCP and may have an antileukemic effect. TMP/SMX should be given the entire duration of maintenance therapy.

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