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Br J Haematol. 2014 Jul;166(2):213-20. doi: 10.1111/bjh.12865. Epub 2014 Apr 5.

Cerebrospinal fluid asparagine depletion during pegylated asparaginase therapy in children with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

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Department of Paediatrics, Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus N, Denmark.


L-asparaginase is an important drug in the treatment of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL). Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) asparagine depletion is considered a marker of asparaginase effect in the central nervous system (CNS) and may play a role in CNS-directed anti-leukaemia therapy. The objective of this study was to describe CSF asparagine depletion during 30 weeks of pegylated asparaginase therapy, 1000 iu/m(2) i.m. every second week, and to correlate CSF asparagine concentration with serum L-asparaginase enzyme activity. Danish children (1-17 years) with ALL, treated according to the Nordic Society of Paediatric Haematology and Oncology ALL2008 protocol, standard and intermediate risk, were included. CSF samples were obtained throughout L-asparaginase treatment at every scheduled lumbar puncture. A total of 128 samples from 31 patients were available for analysis. Median CSF asparagine concentration decreased from a pre-treatment level of 5·3 μmol/l to median levels ≤1·5 μmol/l. However, only 4/31 patients (five samples) had CSF asparagine concentrations below the limit of detection (0·1 μmol/l). In 11 patients, 24 paired same day serum and CSF samples were obtained. A decrease in CSF asparagine corresponded to serum enzyme activities above 50 iu/l. Higher serum enzyme activities were not followed by more extensive depletion. In conclusion, pegylated asparaginase 1000 iu/m(2) i.m. every second week effectively reduced CSF asparagine levels.


acute lymphoblastic leukaemia; asparagine; central nervous system; cerebrospinal fluid; pegylated asparaginase

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