A pilot study of all-trans retinoic acid in patients with Philadelphia chromosome-positive chronic myelogenous leukemia

J. Cortes, H. Kantarjian, S. O'Brien, M. Beran, E. Estey, M. Keating, M. Talpaz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Retinoids have significant antiproliferative effect against chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) cells in vitro. We conducted a pilot study to investigate the clinical effect of all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) in patients with CML. Thirteen patients with Philadelphia chromosome (Ph)-positive CML in late chronic phase (n = 7), accelerated phase (n = 5), or blastic phase (n = 1) were treated. All had been previously treated and 12 (92%) had disease refractory to interferon-α therapy. They received ATRA 175 mg/m2 orally in two divided doses daily until disease progression. The median duration of therapy was 56 days (range 11 to 190). Only one patient in late chronic phase had a transient decrease in WBC counts; all other patients in late chronic phase showed no response to therapy. Four of the five patients in accelerated phase showed evidence of antileukemia effect manifested by a decrease in bone marrow and/or peripheral blood blasts, promyelocyte and/or basophil percentages. In all cases the response was transient. The patient in blastic phase had no evidence of antileukemic effect. The treatment was well tolerated with the major side-effects being headache, nausea, dry skin, and dry mucosal membranes. One patient required dose reductions due to toxicity. We conclude that in this population of patients with extensively treated, advanced stage, Ph-positive CML, ATRA alone is ineffective for long-term therapy. The antileukemia effect seen in some patients warrants further investigation of retinoids in other schedules and in combinations in patients with CML.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)929-932
Number of pages4
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • All-trans retinoic acid
  • Chronic myeloid leukemia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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