Predictive role of erythrocyte macrocytosis during treatment with pemetrexed in advanced non-small cell lung cancer patients

Sebastiano Buti, Paola Bordi, Marcello Tiseo, Emilio Bria, Isabella Sperduti, Massimo Di Maio, Stefano Panni, Silvia Novello, Simonetta Grazia Rapetti, Sara Pilotto, Giovenzio Genestreti, Antonio Rossi, Debora Pezzuolo, Roberta Camisa, Giampaolo Tortora, Andrea Ardizzoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Pemetrexed has been approved for the treatment of advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) non-squamous histology, both as first- and second-line therapy. Pemetrexed is an antimetabolite drug, that inhibits enzymes involved in nucleotides bio-synthesis arresting cancer cells cycle. The aim of this study was the evaluation of the impact of pemetrexed on erythrocyte mean corpuscular volume (MCV) change and its possible correlation with disease control rate (DCR), progression free (PFS) and overall survival (OS) in NSCLC patients. Materials and methods: A retrospective collection of clinical and laboratory data (including basal MCV and maximum MCV occurred during therapy) in advanced NSCLC patients treated with pemetrexed at seven Italian centers was performed. Nonparametric tests, univariate and multivariate analysis were used to assess correlation between variables and to identify predictors of outcomes. Results: 191 patients were enrolled: median age 62, 60% male, 61% performance status (PS) 0, 91% stage IV, 88% adenocarcinoma histotype, 25% never smoker, 62% received pemetrexed as first-line. Mean MCV significantly increased from basal (89. fL) to during treatment (94. fL), with mean δMCV = 4. fL. The median time from therapy start to maximum MCV was 2.2 months. Median PFS was 7 [CI95% 6-8] and 3 [CI95% 2-4] months [ P= 0.0016], and median survival was 17 [CI95% 12-23] and 10 [CI95% 8-12] months [ P= 0.02], in patients with δMCV > 5. fL (n= 80) and δMCV ≤ 5. fL (n = 111), respectively. Multivariate analysis identified age ≥62, PS 0, adenocarcinoma histology and δMCV > 5. fL as independent predictors of longer PFS. A δMCV > 5. fL significantly correlates with DCR. Conclusion: Pemetrexed induces macrocytosis. δMCV > 5. fL on pemetrexed therapy correlated with better DCR, PFS and OS. These results deserve further validation in prospective studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-324
Number of pages6
JournalLung Cancer
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2015


  • Macrocytosis
  • Mean corpuscular volume
  • Non-small cell lung cancer
  • Pemetrexed
  • Predictive role
  • Prognostic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cancer Research


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