[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Activating internal tandem duplication (ITD) mutations in the fms-like tyrosine kinase 3 (FLT3) gene (FLT3-ITD) are associated with poor outcome in acute myeloid leukemia, but their prognostic impact in acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) remains controversial. Here, we screened for FLT3-ITD mutations in 171 APL patients, treated with all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) and anthracycline-based chemotherapy. We identified FLT3-ITD mutations in 35 patients (20 %). FLT3-ITD mutations were associated with higher white blood cell counts (P < 0.0001), relapse-risk score (P = 0.0007), higher hemoglobin levels (P = 0.0004), higher frequency of the microgranular morphology (M3v) subtype (P = 0.03), and the short PML/RARA (BCR3) isoform (P < 0.0001). After a median follow-up of 38 months, FLT3-ITD(positive) patients had a lower 3-year overall survival rate (62 %) compared with FLT3-ITD(negative) patients (82 %) (P = 0.006). The prognostic impact of FLT3-ITD on survival was retained in multivariable analysis (hazard ratio: 2.39, 95 % confidence interval [CI] 1.17-4.89; P = 0.017). Nevertheless, complete remission (P = 0.07), disease-free survival (P = 0.24), and the cumulative incidence of relapse (P = 0.94) rates were not significantly different between groups. We can conclude that FLT3-ITD mutations are associated with several hematologic features in APL, in particular with high white blood cell counts. In addition, FLT3-ITD may independently predict a shorter survival in patients with APL treated with ATRA and anthracycline-based chemotherapy.
Annals of Hematology 07/2014; · 2.87 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Modern guidelines based on a large international consensus indicate that treatment of newly diagnosed acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) requires distinguishing at presentation low-intermediate (<10 × 10(9)/L WBC) from high-risk (>10 × 10(9)/L WBC) disease. The concomitant use of all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) and anthracycline based chemotherapy, with inclusion of AraC in consolidation for hyperleucocytic patients, has remained the standard of care for the past two decades. The advent of arsenic trioxide (ATO) and results from a large randomized trial, have recently challenged the standard ATRA-chemotherapy approach suggesting that at least patients in the low-intermediate category may be cured without chemotherapy using the ATRA-ATO combination.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Arsenic trioxide (ATO) has been shown to be the most effective single agent in acute promyelocytic leukaemia (APL) and has been approved for the treatment of relapsed patients both in the US and Europe. The role of ATO in front-line therapy of APL is under investigation.
Pilot studies using ATO with or without all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) have been carried out in newly diagnosed APL patients with the aim to reduce the short and long-term toxic effects of chemotherapy and to improve clinical outcome. Especially in patients with non-high-risk APL, the ATRA + ATO approach allowed significant increase in event-free survival and overall survival rates compared to standard ATRA and chemotherapy. This has been demonstrated by pilot studies and, more recently, by a randomized comparative multi-centre study conducted in Italy and Germany.
The ATO + ATRA strategy for APL may provide the first paradigm of acute leukaemia curability by targeted agents and without chemotherapy. However, longer follow-up of available studies and independent confirmation of the Italian-German findings are awaited to firmly establish this paradigm. Finally, extension of this approach to other patient categories such as high-risk, elderly and children will need to be explored in the near future.
Current opinion in hematology 01/2014; · 5.19 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) is a distinct subset of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) associated with peculiar biologic and clinical features and requiring specific management. At the genetic level, APL is featured by a unique chromosome translocation t(15;17) which results in the PML-RARα gene fusion and chimeric protein. APL is the first example of differentiation therapy targeted to a defined genetic target i.e PML-RARα. PML-RARα behaves as an altered retinoic acid receptor with an ability of transmitting oncogenic signaling leading to accumulation of undifferentiated promyelocytes. All-trans-retinoic acid (ATRA) induces disease remission in APL patients by triggering terminal differentiation of leukemic promyelocytes. More recently, arsenic trioxide (ATO) has been shown to contribute degradation of the PML-RARα oncoprotein through bonding the PML moiety and has shown excellent synergism with ATRA in clinical trials. Elucidating the oncogenic signaling of PML-RARα through various transcription factors and the study of APL mouse models have greatly helped to understand the molecular pathogenesis of APL. However, the precise molecular mechanism by which t(15;17) is formed and initiates leukemia remains unknown. While transforming oncogenic potential of PML-RARα has been described extensively, the mechanistic events important for the formation of t(15;17) have been taken from the model of t-APL.
Best Practice & Research Clinical Haematology. 01/2014;
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background All-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) with chemotherapy is the standard of care for acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL), resulting in cure rates exceeding 80%. Pilot studies of treatment with arsenic trioxide with or without ATRA have shown high efficacy and reduced hematologic toxicity. Methods We conducted a phase 3, multicenter trial comparing ATRA plus chemotherapy with ATRA plus arsenic trioxide in patients with APL classified as low-to-intermediate risk (white-cell count, ≤10×10(9) per liter). Patients were randomly assigned to receive either ATRA plus arsenic trioxide for induction and consolidation therapy or standard ATRA-idarubicin induction therapy followed by three cycles of consolidation therapy with ATRA plus chemotherapy and maintenance therapy with low-dose chemotherapy and ATRA. The study was designed as a noninferiority trial to show that the difference between the rates of event-free survival at 2 years in the two groups was not greater than 5%. Results Complete remission was achieved in all 77 patients in the ATRA-arsenic trioxide group who could be evaluated (100%) and in 75 of 79 patients in the ATRA-chemotherapy group (95%) (P=0.12). The median follow-up was 34.4 months. Two-year event-free survival rates were 97% in the ATRA-arsenic trioxide group and 86% in the ATRA-chemotherapy group (95% confidence interval for the difference, 2 to 22 percentage points; P<0.001 for noninferiority and P=0.02 for superiority of ATRA-arsenic trioxide). Overall survival was also better with ATRA-arsenic trioxide (P=0.02). As compared with ATRA-chemotherapy, ATRA-arsenic trioxide was associated with less hematologic toxicity and fewer infections but with more hepatic toxicity. Conclusions ATRA plus arsenic trioxide is at least not inferior and may be superior to ATRA plus chemotherapy in the treatment of patients with low-to-intermediate-risk APL. (Funded by Associazione Italiana contro le Leucemie and others; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00482833 .).
New England Journal of Medicine 11/2013; 369(2):112-21. · 51.66 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In Ph- myeloproliferative neoplasms, the quantification of the JAK2V617F transcripts may provide some advantages over the DNA allele burden determination. We developed a q-RT-PCR to assess the JAK2WT and JAK2V617F mRNA expression in 105 cases (23 donors, 13 secondary polycythemia, 22 polycythemia vera (PV), 38 essential thrombocythemia (ET), and 9 primary myelofibrosis (PMF)). Compared with the standard allele-specific oligonucleotide (ASO)-PCR technique, our assay showed a 100 % concordance rate detecting the JAK2V617F mutation in 22/22 PV (100 %), 29/38 (76.3 %) ET, and 5/9 (55.5 %) PMF cases, respectively. The sensitivity of the assay was 0.01 %. Comparing DNA and RNA samples, we found that the JAK2V617F mutational ratios were significantly higher at the RNA level both in PV (p = 0.005) and ET (p = 0.001) samples. In PV patients, JAK2WT expression levels positively correlated with the platelets (PLTs) (p = 0.003) whereas a trend to negative correlation was observed with the Hb levels (p = 0.051). JAK2V617F-positive cases showed the lowest JAK2WT and ABL1 mRNA expression levels. In all the samples, the expression pattern of beta-glucoronidase (GUSB) was more homogeneous than that of ABL1 or β2 microglobulin (B2M). Using GUSB as normalizator gene, a significant increase of the JAK2V617F mRNA levels was seen in two ET patients at time of progression to PV. In conclusion, the proposed q-RT-PCR is a sensitive and accurate method to quantify the JAK2 mutational status that can also show clinical correlations suggesting the impact of the residual amount of the JAK2WT allele on the Ph- MPN disease phenotype. Our observations also preclude the use of ABL1 as a housekeeping gene for these neoplasms.
Annals of Hematology 10/2013; · 2.87 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Therapy-related acute promyelocytic leukemia (t-APL) has been increasingly reported after exposure to cytotoxic and/or immunosuppressive agents given for prior malignancies or autoimmune diseases. t-APL represents both a model for better understanding human leukemogenesis and an interesting therapeutic subset which requires specific adaptations for optimal management.
We discuss here potential risk factors for t-APL development and the main biologic and clinical characteristics of t-APL as compared to de-novo APL.In addition, we review therapeutic results obtained in patients with t-APL receiving conventional retinoic acid and chemotherapy and discuss new treatment opportunities with minimal or no exposure to conventional cytotoxic agents.
Genomic studies in patients at risk of t-APL are relevant to better adapt treatment for the primary disease and to implement monitoring during follow-up and early diagnosis of t-APL. Improved molecular characterization of t-APL may include next generation sequencing approaches to better identify distinguishing features as compared to de-novo APL. Early diagnosis of t-APL through careful monitoring of patients at higher risk, coupled to incorporation in the therapeutic armamentarium of novel effective agents such as arsenic trioxide could result in improved clinical outcome for these patients.
Current opinion in oncology 09/2013; · 4.09 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: NADP-dependent enzyme isocitrate dehydrogenase (IDH) mutations, IDH1 and IDH2, have been described in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) using next generation sequencing approaches. IDH2 mutations are heterozygous; they alter a single arginine residue at position 140 or 172 and have distinct prognostic significance. The current detection methods of IDH2 mutations are laborious and time consuming as they require DNA sequencing. Herein, we report a new allele-specific oligonucleotide-polymerase chain reaction (ASO-PCR) method to detect the IDH2 mutations. Analysis of leukemic DNA samples from 120 AML patients enabled to identify IDH2 mutations in 22 cases which were confirmed by direct DNA sequencing. Of these, 17 harbored IDH2 (R140Q) and 5 IDH2 (R172K) mutations. Serial dilution experiments showed that the assay enable to detect mutations in 10(-3) dilutions. Our ASO-PCR method appears useful for routine diagnostic screening of these prognostically relevant alterations in AML and may be conveniently included in the diagnostic workup.
Annals of Hematology 08/2013; · 2.87 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: FLT3 internal tandem duplication (ITD) mutations are frequently detected at diagnosis in cytogenetically normal acute myeloid leukaemia (CN-AML) and predict unfavourable outcome. FLT3 ITD is an unstable aberration and may be lost or acquired at relapse. Recent whole genome sequencing studies have suggested that FLT3 ITD+ ve AML relapse may evolve from small subclones undetectable at diagnosis by routine polymerase chain reaction (PCR). We developed a patient-specific real-time quantitative-PCR (RQ-PCR) to implement FLT3 ITD detection in six AML patients whose blasts carried wild-type FLT3 at diagnosis and who relapsed with FLT3 ITD by routine PCR. Patient-specific forward primers were designed after cloning and sequencing the FLT3 ITD in each case. The assay allowed retrospective detection of FLT3 ITD in diagnostic samples of 4/6 cases and to establish the kinetics of clonal evolution preceding relapse. After conventional chemotherapy, all patients had early relapse despite having been classified as NPM1+ ve/FLT3 ITD- ve at presentation, with shorter remissions being observed in four patients re-classified as FLT3 ITD+ ve by the new assay. Notably, FLT3 ITD clone became detectable by conventional PCR in three patients tested during remission after initial treatment. Our data underscore the need of identifying low FLT3 ITD levels, which are probably associated with relapse in otherwise good prognosis CN-AML.
British Journal of Haematology 03/2013; · 4.94 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Modern treatment with all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) and chemotherapy has converted acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) into the most frequently curable leukemia. However, this progress has not yielded equivalent benefit to developing countries. The IC-APL was established to create a network in developing countries that would exchange experience and data and receive support from well-established US and European cooperative groups. The IC-APL formulated expeditious diagnostic, treatment and supportive guidelines that were adapted to local circumstances. APL was elected as a model disease because of the potential impact of improved diagnosis and treatment. The project included 4 national coordinators and reference laboratories, common clinical record forms, 5 subcommittees, laboratory and data management training programs, with regular virtual and face-to-face meetings. Complete hematological remission was achieved by 153/180 (85%) patients and 27 (15%) died during induction. After a median follow up of 28 months, the 2-year cumulative incidence of relapse (CIR), overall survival (OS) and disease-free survival (DFS) were 4.5%, 80% and 91%, respectively. The establishment of the IC-APL network resulted in a nearly 50% decrease in early mortality and a nearly 30% improvement in OS compared to historical controls, resulting in OS and DFS similar to those reported in developed countries.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: MicroRNAs are key regulators of many biological processes, including cell differentiation. These small RNAs exert their function assembled in the RNA-induced silencing complexes (RISCs), where members of Argonaute (Ago) family of proteins provide a unique platform for target recognition and gene silencing. Here, by using myeloid cell lines and primary blasts, we show that Ago2 has a key role in human monocytic cell fate determination and in LPS-induced inflammatory response of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (D3)-treated myeloid cells. The silencing of Ago2 impairs the D3-dependent miR-17-5p/20a/106a, miR-125b and miR-155 downregulation, the accumulation of their translational targets AML1, VDR and C/EBPβ and monocytic cell differentiation. Moreover, we show that Ago2 is recruited on miR-155 host gene promoter and on the upstream region of an overlapping antisense lncRNA, determining their epigenetic silencing, and miR-155 downregulation. These findings highlight Ago2 as a new factor in myeloid cell fate determination in acute myeloid leukemia cells.
Cell Death & Disease 01/2013; 4:e926. · 6.04 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Alterations in hematopoietic microenvironment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia patients have been claimed to occur, but little is known about the components of marrow stroma in these patients. In this study, we characterized mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) isolated from bone marrow (BM) of 45 pediatric patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL-MSCs) at diagnosis (day+0) and during chemotherapy treatment (days: +15; +33; +78), the time points being chosen according to the schedule of BM aspirates required by the AIEOP-BFM ALL 2009 treatment protocol. Morphology, proliferative capacity, immunophenotype, differentiation potential, immunomodulatory properties and ability to support long-term hematopoiesis of ALL-MSCs were analysed and compared with those from 41 healthy donors (HD-MSCs). ALL-MSCs were also genetically characterized through array-CGH, conventional karyotyping and FISH analysis. Moreover, we compared ALL-MSCs generated at day+0 with those isolated during chemotherapy. Morphology, immunophenotype, differentiation potential and in vitro life-span did not differ between ALL-MSCs and HD-MSCs. ALL-MSCs showed significantly lower proliferative capacity (p<0.001) and ability to support in vitro hematopoiesis (p = 0.04) as compared with HD-MSCs, while they had similar capacity to inhibit in vitro mitogen-induced T-cell proliferation (p = N.S.). ALL-MSCs showed neither the typical translocations carried by the leukemic clone (when present), nor other genetic abnormalities acquired during ex vivo culture. Our findings indicate that ALL-MSCs display reduced ability to proliferate and to support long-term hematopoiesis in vitro. ALL-MSCs isolated at diagnosis do not differ from those obtained during treatment.
PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(11):e76989. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Unlike other forms of AML, APL is less frequently diagnosed in the elderly and has a relatively favourable outcome. Elderly patients with APL seem at least as responsive to therapy as do younger patients, but rates of response and survival are lower in this age setting owing to a higher incidence of early deaths and deaths in remission when conventional treatment with ATRA and chemotherapy is used. Elderly APL patients are more likely to present with low-risk features compared with younger patients, and this may explain the relative low risk of relapse reported in several clinical studies. Alternative approaches, such as arsenic trioxide and gentuzumab ozogamicin have been tested with success in this setting and could replace in the near future frontline conventional chemotherapy and ATRA.
Mediterranean Journal of Hematology and Infectious Diseases 01/2013; 5(1):e2013045.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Despite the impressive results obtained with standard chemotherapy, approximately 20% of acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) patients undergo disease relapse thereby requiring salvage therapy. Few data is available on long-term prognosis in relation to time to complete remission (CR): we reviewed 142 patients treated with AIDA protocols and we found that 42 out of 142 (29.6%) patients achieved CR after 35 days (median time, 42 days). No significant differences in presenting features, including FAB subtype, type of PML/RARA transcript and relapse risk at presentation between the two patient groups achieving CR > or <35 days were revealed, except for male sex and older age that were significantly associated with delayed CR. Rate of relapse was 31% in patients with delayed CR compared to 17% in the group of patients who achieved CR<35 days (p=0.001), with a 5-year CIR of 29.6% compared to 12% (p=0.03). APL patients with delayed CR should be more closely monitored during follow-up for early identification of relapse and prompt administration of pre-emptive salvage therapy.