Busulfan, cyclophosphamide and melphalan as conditioning regimen for bone marrow transplantation in children with myelodysplastic syndromes

Franco Locatelli, Andrea Pession, Federico Bonetti, Emanuela Maserati, Luisella Prete, Paolo Pedrazzoli, Marco Zecca, Arcangelo Prete, Paolo Paolucci, Mario Cazzola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


As typical disorders of the elderly, myelodysplastic syndromes (MDSs) are relatively unusual in childhood. Nevertheless, up to 17% of cases of pediatric acute myeloid leukemia may have a preleukemic phase. In young patients, the goal of treatment is eradication of the preleukemic malignant clone and reconstitution of normal hematopoiesis. Allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (BMT) has proved to be capable of this, but the optimal conditioning treatment to achieve eradication remains to be defined. Between May 1989 and June 1993, eight consecutive pediatric patients with MDS received a marrow transplant from an HLA-identical, mixed lymphocyte culture (MLC) non-reactive sibling. Diagnosis at time of presentation was refractory anemia with excess of blasts (RAEB) in two patients, RAEB in transformation (RAEB-t) in three, and juvenile chronic myelogenous leukemia (JCML, the pediatric counterpart of adult chronic myelomonocytic leukemia) in the remaining three children. Conditioning regimen consisted of busulfan, cyclophosphamide and melphalan, three alkylating agents potentially capable of killing also dormant preleukemic stem cells. The preparative regimen was very well tolerated, and all patients engrafted promptly. Six out of eight patients (75%) are alive and well with a median observation time of 20 months (range 8-34 months). Serial karyotype monitoring and molecular analyses have demonstrated a full chimerism of donor cells and the complete disappearance of trisomy 8 detected before transplant in three cases. All surviving patients have a Karnofsky score of 100%. One boy, affected by RAEB-t with monosomy 7 resistant to treatment with low-dose ara-C, relapsed 11 months after BMT, evolved in AML and died from progressive leukemia. Another patient with RAEB died on day +95 after BMT due to interstitial pneumonia of unclear etiology. This study confirms that allogeneic BMT is the treatment of choice in pediatric patients with MDS, and suggests that the employed conditioning regimen is a safe and effective means for eradicating the preleukemic malignant clone. Particularly noteworthy is that the three children with JCML obtained a complete remission and one of them is now a long-term survivor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)844-849
Number of pages6
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Cancer Research

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