Molecular remissions induced by liposomal-encapsulated all-trans retinoic acid in newly diagnosed acute promyelocytic leukemia

Elihu H. Estey, Francis J. Giles, Hagop Kantarjian, Susan O'Brien, Jorge Cortes, Emil J. Freireich, Gabriel Lopez-Berestein, Michael Keating

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98 Scopus citations


All-trans retinoic acid administered orally (oral ATRA) may not regularly lead to either molecular complete remissions (CRs) or prolonged hematologic CRs (HCR) unless combined with chemotherapy. Because serum tretinoin concentrations are higher, and maintained longer, after use of liposomal-encapsulated ATRA (lipoATRA) rather than oral ATRA, we investigated lipoATRA monotherapy in newly diagnosed acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL). Patients received lipoATRA 90 mg/m2 every other day for remission induction. The same dose was given 3 times a week until 9 months had elapsed from HCR date. Treatment then stopped. Chemotherapy (idarubicin 12 mg/m2 daily days 1-2 for 2 courses) was to be added only if 2 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, performed 2 weeks apart, were positive at 3, 6, or 9 months from HCR date. The sensitivity level of the PCR was 10-4. We treated 18 patients (median age, 54 years; median white blood cell [WBC] count 4,500/μL). The HCR rate was 12/18 (67%, 95% confidence interval [CI], 41% to 87%). This rate was similar to that we observed in a previous study using oral ATRA + idarubicin. Nine of 10 patients studied at HCR date were PCR-positive. Subsequently, however, overall (+/- idarubicin) rates of PCR positivity were 0/12 at 3 months, 1/10 at 6 months, 1/7 at 9 and 12 months, and 0/4 at 15 to 17 months. Idarubicin has been added in 3 patients, with this addition occurring at 6 months in 2 patients and at 9 months in 1 patient. Among patients who had not received idarubicin when the PCR was evaluated, 0 of 12 were PCR-positive at 3 months, 1 of 10 was positive at 6 months, 1 of 6 was positive at 9 months, 0 of 4 were positive at 12 months, and 0 of 3 were positive at 15 to 17 months. Morphologic APL has recurred in 1 patient, with a median follow-up time of 13 months in the 11 patients remaining in first CR. The median follow-up time is 9 1/2 months (range, 3 to 17) in the 9 patients who have received only lipoATRA and who remain PCR-negative and in first CR. Our data suggest that lipoATRA is an effective means of producing molecular CR in newly diagnosed APL.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2230-2235
Number of pages6
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 1 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Immunology
  • Hematology
  • Cell Biology


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