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Drugs. 1995 Nov;50(5):897-923.

Tretinoin. A review of its pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic properties and use in the management of acute promyelocytic leukaemia.

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Adis International Limited, Auckland, New Zealand.


Tretinoin (all-trans retinoic acid), a vitamin A derivative, induces cellular differentiation in several haematological precursor cell lines and cells from patients with acute promyelocytic leukaemia. Drug treatment with tretinoin is associated with morphological and functional maturation of leukaemic promyelocytes and a progressive reduction in the occurrence of the characteristic t(15;17) chromosomal translocation. Recent therapeutic trials indicate that tretinoin induces remission in 64 to 100% of patients with acute promyelocytic leukaemia. In newly diagnosed patients, remission induction treatment with tretinoin followed by intensive chemotherapy resulted in a significant reduction in relapse rate and prolongation of event-free and overall survival compared with chemotherapy alone in 1 comparative trial. Tretinoin alone does not totally eradicate the leukaemic clone and consolidation chemotherapy is recommended as follow-up. The use of reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) provides a sensitive and specific technique to assist in prediction and monitoring of a patient's response to treatment and to help detect the presence of residual or recurrent disease. The use of tretinoin is potentially limited by the rapid and almost universal development of drug resistance and occurrence of the often severe retinoic acid syndrome. Useful strategies have been described to manage these effects but current and future efforts must be directed at elucidating the mechanisms involved and determining the optimum therapeutic management. In summary, results to date indicate that the combination of tretinoin and intensive chemotherapy is more effective than chemotherapy alone and appears to improve the prognosis of newly diagnosed patients with acute promyelocytic leukaemia. Further information on the relative efficacy of various induction and post-remission strategies in subsets of patients will help determine optimum use of this promising agent in the management of acute promyelocytic leukaemia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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