Clinical characteristics, prognostic factors and multidrug-resistance related protein expression in 36 adult patients with acute promyelocytic leukemia

Anna Candoni, Daniela Damiani, Angela Michelutti, Paola Masolini, Mariagrazia Michieli, Teresa Michelutti, Antonella Geromin, Renato Fanin

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We report on a single-center experience about the characteristics and outcome of 36 acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) patients observed at our Department of Hematology between 1990 and 2002. The expression, of multidrug-resistance (MDR) associated proteins (PGP, LRP, MRP1) was also analyzed. There were 12 males and 24 females (median age 37 yr), 89% (32 of 36) with classic morphology, and 11% (four of 36) with a microgranular variant. Risk class (according to GIMEMA/PETHEMA): 25% (nine of 36) high risk (HR), 53% (nineteen of 36) intermediate risk (IR), 22% (eight of 36) low risk (LR). PGP, LRP, and MRP1 expression at onset and at first relapse was low. CD33 antigen expression was high in all cases. The patients were treated according to GIMEMA protocols (LAP0389 and AIDA) including ATRA in induction in 75% (27 of 36) of cases and 94% (34 of 36) achieved a complete remission (CR) after induction therapy while 6% (two of 36) died early (DDI) of hemorrhage. Outcome: 71% (24 of 34) of evaluable patients remain in CR at a median follow-up of 57 months (range 4-158 months) while 29% (10 of 34) relapsed at a median time of 12 months (range 8-43 months) and, of them, eight of 10 died early. The majority of patients that relapsed were in high-risk group. The overall survival (OS) of the whole population at 32 months was 66% and the DFS at 42 months was 62%. A statistically significant difference in terms of DFS was observed between HR and IR/LR patients (P = 0.04 by log-rank). DFS was not affected by age, sex, Hb levels, karyotype, and BCR isoform. At conclusion, our data confirm that despite the high rate of success with ATRA plus chemotherapy as induction (more than 90% of CR), about 30% of APL patients have a relapse (without a long-lasting second remission) and underline the importance of patient stratification in distinct risk groups at diagnosis in order to better adapt the type and intensity of treatment (risk-adapted therapy). Taking into account the high expression of CD33 and the low expression of MDR proteins in APL, new and investigational approaches like gemtuzumabozogamicin, with or without ATRA and other new drugs, should be strongly considered expecially in HR APL.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Haematology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2003


  • Acute promyelocytic leukemia
  • Multidrug resistance
  • Prognostic factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology


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