Publications by authors named "Antonella Russo Rossi"

31 Publications

Molecular response and quality of life in chronic myeloid leukemia patients treated with intermittent TKIs: First interim analysis of OPTkIMA study.

Cancer Med 2021 03 16;10(5):1726-1737. Epub 2021 Feb 16.

University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy.

Background: Intermittent treatment with TKIs is an option for the great majority (70%-80%) of CML patients who do not achieve a stable deep molecular response and are not eligible for treatment discontinuation. For these patients, the only alternative is to assume TKI continuously, lifelong.

Methods: The Italian phase III multicentric randomized OPTkIMA study started in 2015, with the aim to evaluate if a progressive de-escalation of TKIs (imatinib, nilotinib, and dasatinib) is able to maintain the molecular response (MR ) and to improve Health Related Quality of Life (HRQoL).

Results: Up to December 2018, 166/185 (90%) elderly CML patients in stable MR /MR completed the first year of any TKI intermittent schedule 1 month ON and 1 month OFF. The first year probability of maintaining the MR was 81% and 23.5% of the patients who lost the molecular response regained the MR after resuming TKI continuously. Patients' HRQoL at baseline was better than that of matched peers from healthy population. Women was the only factor independently associated with worse baseline HRQoL (p > 0.0001). Overall, global HRQoL worsened at 6 (p < 0.001) but returned to the baseline value at 12 months and it was statistically significantly worse in women (p = 0.001).

Conclusions: De-escalation of any TKI by 1 month ON/OFF schedule maintains the MR /MR in 81% of the patients during the first 12-24 months. No patients progressed to accelerated/blastic phase, all the patients (23.5%) losing MR regained the MR and none suffered from TKI withdrawn syndrome. The study firstly report on HRQoL in elderly CML patients moving from a continuous daily therapy to a de-escalated intermittent treatment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cam4.3778DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7940223PMC
March 2021

Prospective assessment of NGS-detectable mutations in CML patients with nonoptimal response: the NEXT-in-CML study.

Blood 2020 02;135(8):534-541

Department of Hematology, Ospedale San Carlo, Potenza, Italy.

In chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) patients, tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) may select for drug-resistant BCR-ABL1 kinase domain (KD) mutants. Although Sanger sequencing (SS) is considered the gold standard for BCR-ABL1 KD mutation screening, next-generation sequencing (NGS) has recently been assessed in retrospective studies. We conducted a prospective, multicenter study (NEXT-in-CML) to assess the frequency and clinical relevance of low-level mutations and the feasibility, cost, and turnaround times of NGS-based BCR-ABL1 mutation screening in a routine setting. A series of 236 consecutive CML patients with failure (n = 124) or warning (n = 112) response to TKI therapy were analyzed in parallel by SS and NGS in 1 of 4 reference laboratories. Fifty-one patients (22 failure, 29 warning) who were negative for mutations by SS had low-level mutations detectable by NGS. Moreover, 29 (27 failure, 2 warning) of 60 patients who were positive for mutations by SS showed additional low-level mutations. Thus, mutations undetectable by SS were identified in 80 out of 236 patients (34%), of whom 42 (18% of the total) had low-level mutations somehow relevant for clinical decision making. Prospective monitoring of mutation kinetics demonstrated that TKI-resistant low-level mutations are invariably selected if the patients are not switched to another TKI or if they are switched to a inappropriate TKI or TKI dose. The NEXT-in-CML study provides for the first time robust demonstration of the clinical relevance of low-level mutations, supporting the incorporation of NGS-based BCR-ABL1 KD mutation screening results in the clinical decision algorithms.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1182/blood.2019002969DOI Listing
February 2020

Skin lesions in chronic myeloid leukemia patients during dasatinib treatment.

Cancer Manag Res 2019 26;11:7991-7996. Epub 2019 Aug 26.

Department of Emergency and Organ Transplantation (D.E.T.O.), Hematology Section, University of Bari "Aldo Moro", Bari, Italy.

Purpose: In our work we sought to define the prevalence rates of cutaneous events during dasatinib therapy in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) patients and to investigate the clinical and pathological characteristics of these reactions.

Patients And Methods: In our institution, 67 CML patients were treated with dasatinib. it was given as first line treatment in 26 (39%) and subsequent treatment in 41 (61%) CML patients. Flow cytometry analysis of peripheral blood and cutaneous biopsy was done on all CML patients with dermatological lesions appearing during dasatinib treatment.

Results: Among 67 CML patients, 4 (5.9%) showed skin lesions during dasatinib treatment. The cutaneous manifestations were not generalized but mainly located on the back, abdomen, thorax or leg regions. The patients did not show peripheral lymphocytosis at the time when skin lesions appeared. Overall, histological analysis showed that the skin lesions were characterized by a mild perivascular small CD8+ T lymphocytes infiltrate with minimal epidermotropism.

Conclusion: The unusual T cytotoxic cutaneous infiltrate demonstrated in our CML cases could be the expression of a dasatinib-promoted lymphocyte expansion. However, the heterogeneity of the dermatologic manifestations reported in our CML patients could also be related to unknown factors specific to each CML patient. Our work highlights the finding that skin lesions may be associated with dasatinib treatment and that they should not be confused with viral or bacterial infections but rather interpreted as the clinical expression of lymphocytosis promoted by this TKI.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2147/CMAR.S217872DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6717053PMC
August 2019

Incidence and evaluation of predisposition to cardiovascular toxicity in chronic myeloid leukemia patients treated with bosutinib in the real-life practice.

Ann Hematol 2019 Aug 1;98(8):1885-1890. Epub 2019 May 1.

Division of Hematology, Department of Cellular Biotechnologies and Hematology, Policlinico Umberto I, Sapienza University, Rome, Italy.

There is little information about cardiovascular adverse event (CV-AE) incidence in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) patients treated with bosutinib in the real-life practice. We identified 54 consecutive CML patients treated with bosutinib, stratified according to the Systematic Coronary Risk Evaluation (SCORE) assessment, based on sex, age, smoking habits, systolic blood pressure, and total cholesterol levels. The 40-month cumulative incidence of CV-AEs was 25.2 ± 8.1%. Patients with the SCORE of high-very high showed a significantly higher incidence of CV-AEs (55 ± 12.9% vs 9 ± 9.5%; p = 0.002). Overall, 9 CV-AEs were reported, with 2 deaths attributed to CV-AE. In conclusion, the SCORE assessment before starting treatment is helpful in identifying CV-AE high-risk patients during bosutinib treatment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00277-019-03705-yDOI Listing
August 2019

Genomic BCR-ABL1 breakpoint characterization by a multi-strategy approach for "personalized monitoring" of residual disease in chronic myeloid leukemia patients.

Oncotarget 2018 Feb 5;9(13):10978-10986. Epub 2018 Jan 5.

Department of Emergency and Organ Transplantation, Hematology Section, University of Bari, 70124 Bari, Italy.

For monitoring minimal residual disease (MRD) in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) the most recommended method is quantitative RT-PCR (RT-qPCR) for measuring BCR-ABL1 transcripts. Several studies reported that a DNA-based assay enhances the sensitivity of detection of the BCR-ABL1 genomic rearrangement, even if its characterization results difficult. We developed a DNA-based method for detecting and quantifying residual BCR-ABL1 positive leukemic stem cells in CML patients. We propose two alternative approaches: the first one is a fluorescence hybridization (FISH)-based step followed by Sanger sequencing; the second one employs MinION, a single molecule sequencer based on nanopore technology. Finally, after defining the BCR-ABL1 genomic junction, we performed the target CML patient-specific quantification, using droplet digital PCR (ddPCR). FISH and MinION steps, respectively, together with ddPCR analysis, greatly reduce the complexity that has impeded the use of "personalized monitoring" of CML in clinical practice. Our report suggests a feasible pipeline, in terms of costs and reproducibility, aimed at characterizing and quantifying the genomic BCR-ABL1 rearrangement during MRD monitoring in CML patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.23971DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5834283PMC
February 2018

FLAG-Ida Regimen as Bridge Therapy to Allotransplantation in Refractory/Relapsed Acute Myeloid Leukemia Patients.

Clin Lymphoma Myeloma Leuk 2017 11 19;17(11):767-773. Epub 2017 Jun 19.

Hematology and Bone Marrow Transplantation Unit, Department of Emergency and Organ Transplantation, University of Bari, Bari, Italy.

Background: Patients with primary refractory or first relapse acute myeloid leukemia (AML) are considered to have worse clinical outcomes after treatment. For these patients, the achievement of complete remission appears crucial for them to be able to undergo allotransplantation, which might be the only possible treatment.

Patients And Methods: We used the FLAG-Ida (fludarabine, cytarabine [cytosine arabinoside], granulocyte colony-stimulating factor, idarubicin) regimen in patients with primary refractory/first relapse AML as a bridge to transplantation. We studied its efficacy in terms of overall response and overall survival to assess which variables (age, lactate dehydrogenase, bone marrow blast count, peripheral blood blast count, platelet count, white blood cell count, de novo or secondary AML, molecular-cytogenetic risk, duration of response, and relapsed or refractory disease) might have an effect on outcome.

Results: We analyzed the data from 108 consecutive adult patients (52 males, 66 females; median age, 49 years; range, 17-72 years) with newly diagnosed AML refractory to standard induction regimens or relapse after first complete remission, who had received the FLAG-Ida protocol as salvage therapy from January 2005 to December 2015. An overall response was achieved in 48 patients (44%). On multivariate analysis, the variables with a positive effect on the response rate were molecular-cytogenetic risk (P = .009), duration of first response in relapsed AML (P = .003), AML status (relapsed or refractory; P = .047), and peripheral blood blast count (P = .016). On multivariate analysis, overall survival was significantly associated with FLAG-Ida response (hazard ratio, 0.343; P = .001) and receipt of allotransplantation (hazard ratio, 0.277; P < .001).

Conclusion: Our data seem to confirm the value of FLAG-Ida in this setting and might suggest its best usage as bridge therapy for patients awaiting allotransplantation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clml.2017.06.002DOI Listing
November 2017

Mutational analysis in BCR-ABL1 positive leukemia by deep sequencing based on nanopore MinION technology.

Exp Mol Pathol 2017 08 27;103(1):33-37. Epub 2017 Jun 27.

Department of Emergency and Organ Transplantation (D.E.T.O.), Hematology Section, University of Bari, 70124 Bari, Italy. Electronic address:

We report a third-generation sequencing assay on nanopore technology (MinION) for detecting BCR-ABL1 KD mutations and compare the results to a Sanger sequencing(SS)-based test in 24 Philadelphia-positive (Ph+) leukemia cases. Our data indicates that MinION is markedly superior to SS in terms of sensitivity, costs and timesaving, and has the added advantage of determining the clonal configuration of multiple mutations. We demonstrate that MinION is suitable for employment in the hematology laboratory for detecting BCR-ABL1 KD mutation in Ph+ leukemias.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.yexmp.2017.06.007DOI Listing
August 2017

Frontline Dasatinib Treatment in a "Real-Life" Cohort of Patients Older than 65 Years with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia.

Neoplasia 2016 09;18(9):536-40

Department of Hematology and Oncology "L. and A. Seràgnoli,", S. Orsola-Malpighi University Hospital, Bologna.

Dasatinib (DAS) has been licensed for the frontline treatment in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). However, very few data are available regarding its efficacy and toxicity in elderly patients with CML outside clinical trials. To address this issue, we set out a "real-life" cohort of 65 chronic phase CML patients older than 65 years (median age 75.1 years) treated frontline with DAS in 26 Italian centers from June 2012 to June 2015, focusing our attention on toxicity and efficacy data. One third of patients (20/65: 30.7%) had 3 or more comorbidities and required concomitant therapies; according to Sokal classification, 3 patients (4.6%) were low risk, 39 (60.0%) intermediate risk, and 20 (30.8%) high risk, whereas 3 (4.6%) were not classifiable. DAS starting dose was 100 mg once a day in 54 patients (83.0%), whereas 11 patients (17.0%) received less than 100 mg/day. Grade 3/4 hematologic and extrahematologic toxicities were reported in 8 (12.3%) and 12 (18.5%) patients, respectively. Overall, 10 patients (15.4%) permanently discontinued DAS because of toxicities. Pleural effusions (all WHO grades) occurred in 12 patients (18.5%) and in 5 of them occurred during the first 3 months. DAS treatment induced in 60/65 patients (92.3%) a complete cytogenetic response and in 50/65 (76.9%) also a major molecular response. These findings show that DAS might play an important role in the frontline treatment of CML patients >65 years old, proving efficacy and having a favorable safety profile also in elderly subjects with comorbidities.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neo.2016.07.005DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5031865PMC
September 2016

Imatinib and polypharmacy in very old patients with chronic myeloid leukemia: effects on response rate, toxicity and outcome.

Oncotarget 2016 Nov;7(48):80083-80090

Hematology and Transplants Unit, University of Bari, Bari, Italy.

Background: About 40% of all patients with chronic myeloid leukemia are currently old or very old. They are effectively treated with imatinib, even though underrepresented in clinical studies. Furthermore, as it happens in the general population, they often receive multiple drugs for associated chronic illnesses. Aim of this study was to assess whether or not in imatinib-treated patients aged >75 years the exposure to polypharmacy (5 drugs or more) had an impact on cytogenetic and molecular response rates, event-free and overall survival, as well as on hematological or extra-hematological toxicity.

Methods: 296 patients at 35 Italian hematological institutions were evaluated.

Results: Polypharmacy was reported in 107 patients (36.1%), and drugs more frequently used were antiplatelets, diuretics, proton pump inhibitors, ACE-inhibitors, beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, angiotensin II receptors blockers, statins, oral hypoglycemic drugs and alpha blockers. Complete cytogenetic response was obtained in 174 patients (58.8%), 78 (26.4%) within 6 month, 63 (21.3%) between 7 and 12 months. Major molecular response was obtained in 153 patients (51.7%), 64 (21.6%) within the 12 month. One hundred and twenty-eight cases (43.2%) of hematological toxicity were recorded, together with 167 cases (56.4%) of extra-hematological toxicity. Comparing patients exposed to polypharmacy to those without, no difference was observed pertaining to the dosage of imatinib, cytogenetic and molecular responses and hematological and extra-hematological toxicity.

Conclusion: Notwithstanding the several interactions reported in the literature between imatinib and some of the medications considered herewith, this fact does not seem to have a clinical impact on response rate and outcome.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.11657DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5346773PMC
November 2016

Dasatinib first-line: Multicentric Italian experience outside clinical trials.

Leuk Res 2016 Jan 17;40:24-9. Epub 2015 Nov 17.

Ematologia-Sapienza Università, Roma, Italy.

Dasatinib was approved for the treatment of chronic phase (CP) chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) patients in first line therapy based on the demonstration of efficacy and safety reported in patients enrolled in clinical trials. We describe a multicentric Italian "real-life" experience of dasatinib used as frontline treatment outside clinical trials. One hundred and nine patients (median age 54 years) were treated from January 2012 to December 2013. Increased incidence of high risk patients were detected according to stratification (26% according to Sokal score, 19% according to Euro score and 16% according to EUTOS) when compared to company sponsored studies. Median time from diagnosis to start of dasatinib was 18 days. Ten patients received unscheduled starting dose (6 patients 50mg and 4 patients 80 mg QD), whereas 99 patients started with 100mg QD. At 3 months, 92% of patients achieved a BCR-ABL ratio less than 10%. At 6 months, the rate of CCyR was 91% and the rate of MR3 was 40%, with 8% of the patients reaching MR4.5. Ninety-three patients were evaluable at 12 months: the rate of MR3 was 62%, with MR4.5 being achieved by 19% of the patients. At a median follow-up of 12 months, 27 patients (24.7%) were receiving the drug at reduced dose. Two patients (1.8%) experienced a lymphoid blast crisis and the overall incidence of resistance was 8%. As regards safety, the major side effects recorded were thrombocytopenia, neutropenia and pleural effusions, which occurred in 22%, 10% and 8% of patients, respectively. Present results, achieved in a large cohort of patients treated outside clinical trials, further confirm the efficacy and safety of dasatinib as firstline treatment in CML.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.leukres.2015.11.008DOI Listing
January 2016

Long-term outcome of a phase 2 trial with nilotinib 400 mg twice daily in first-line treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia.

Haematologica 2015 Sep 25;100(9):1146-50. Epub 2015 Jun 25.

Institute of Hematology "L. and A. Seràgnoli", Department of Experimental, Diagnostic and Specialty Medicine, "S. Orsola-Malpighi" University Hospital, University of Bologna, Roma, Italy

Nilotinib is a second-generation tyrosine kinase inhibitor that has been approved for the first-line treatment of chronic-phase chronic myeloid leukemia, based on the results of a prospective randomized study of nilotinib versus imatinib (ENESTnd). Apart from this registration study, very few data are currently available on first-line nilotinib treatment. We report here the long-term, 6-year results of the first investigator-sponsored, GIMEMA multicenter phase 2, single-arm trial with nilotinib 400 mg twice daily as first-line treatment in 73 patients with chronic-phase chronic myeloid leukemia. Six-year overall survival and progression-free survival rates were 96%, with one death after progression to blast phase. At 6 years, 75% of the patients were still on nilotinib. The cumulative incidence of major molecular response was 98%; only one patient had a confirmed loss of major molecular response. The cumulative incidence of deep molecular response (MR 4.0) was 76%. Deep molecular response was stable (≥ 2 years) in 34% of these patients. Cardiovascular adverse events, mainly due to arterial thrombosis, occurred in 11/73 patients (15%), after 24 to 76 months of therapy. They were more frequent in elderly patients, and in those with baseline cardiovascular risk factors. None was fatal, although there was a relevant morbidity. This is the study with the longest follow-up of a high dose of nilotinib (400 mg twice daily): it highlights the high efficacy and the cardiovascular toxicity of the drug (CTG.NCT.00481052).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3324/haematol.2015.129221DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4800682PMC
September 2015

Age influences initial dose and compliance to imatinib in chronic myeloid leukemia elderly patients but concomitant comorbidities appear to influence overall and event-free survival.

Leuk Res 2014 Oct 7;38(10):1173-6. Epub 2014 Jul 7.

Ematologia, Polo Universitario ASO San Luigi Gonzaga, Orbassano, Italy.

We applied Charlson comorbidity index (CCI) stratification on a large cohort of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) very elderly patients (>75 years) treated with imatinib, in order to observe the impact of concomitant diseases on both compliance and outcome. One hundred and eighty-one patients were recruited by 21 Italian centers. There were 95 males and 86 females, median age 78.6 years (range 75-93.6). According to Sokal score, 106 patients were classified as intermediate risk and 55 as high risk (not available in 20 patients). According to CCI stratification, 71 patients had score 0 and 110 a score ≥ 1. Imatinib standard dose was reduced at start of therapy (200-300 mg/day) in 68 patients independently from the evaluation of baseline comorbidities, but based only on physician judgement: 43.6% of these patients had score 0 compared to 34% of patients who had score ≥ 1. Significant differences were found in terms of subsequent dose reduction (39% of patients with score 0 compared to 53% of patients with score ≥ 1) and in terms of drug discontinuation due to toxicity (35% of patients with score 0 vs 65% of patients with score ≥ 1). We did not find significant differences as regards occurrence of hematologic side effects, probably as a consequence of the initial dose reduction: 39% of patients with score 0 experienced grade 3/4 hematologic toxicity (most commonly anemia) compared to 42% of patients with score ≥ 1. Independently from the initial dose, comorbidities again did not have an impact on development of grade 3/4 non-hematologic side effects (most commonly skin rash, muscle cramps and fluid retention): 62% of patients with score 0 compared to 52.5% of patients with score ≥ 1. Notwithstanding the reduced dose and the weight of comorbidities we did not find significant differences but only a trend in terms of efficacy: 66% of patients with score 0 achieved a CCyR compared to 54% of patients with score ≥ 1. Comorbidities appeared to have an impact on median OS (40.8 months for patients with score 0 vs 20.16 months for patients with score ≥ 1) on EFS and on non-CML death rate. Our results suggest that treatment of very elderly CML patients might be influenced by personal physician perception: evaluation at baseline of comorbidities according to CCI should improve initial decision-making in this subset of patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.leukres.2014.06.020DOI Listing
October 2014

Immunophenotypic and molecular features of 'cuplike' acute myeloid leukemias.

Eur J Haematol 2014 Feb;92(2):121-6

Department of Emergency - Section of Haematology, University of Bari, Bari, Italy.

Nuclear invaginations, also referred to as fishmouth or cuplike nuclei, have long been identified in microgranular APL, myelomonocytic and monocytic AMLs. More recently, this typical morphological feature has been associated with NPM1 and FLT3 mutations, as well as with the lack of CD34 and HLA-DR expression. In this study, we retrospectively analyzed the morphologic, immunophenotypic, cytogenetic, and molecular features of 68 patients with AML. A cuplike nuclear invagination was detected in more than 10% of blast cells in 15 (22%) cases. Our data show that a cuplike morphology is associated with FLT3-ITD positivity, as well as with the loss of CD34 and HLA-DR expression. The results were not significantly modified when a higher cutoff of cuplike cells was used. Our results are not sufficient to suggest that cuplike AML could represent a distinct subtype, but further investigations could yield a better characterization of this feature in patients with AML.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ejh.12217DOI Listing
February 2014

Use of tyrosine kinase inhibitors in a patient with Brugada syndrome and chronic myeloid leukemia.

Int J Hematol 2013 Oct 24;98(4):483-6. Epub 2013 Jul 24.

U.O. Ematologia con Trapianto, D.E.T.O., Universita' degli Studi di Bari "Aldo Moro", Piazza Giulio Cesare 11, 70124, Bari, Italy,

The treatment and prognosis of chronic myeloid leukemia have dramatically changed since the introduction of tyrosine kinase inhibitors, but although several clinical trials have examined their safety with respect to heart function, no data are yet available about the use of these drugs in patients with Brugada syndrome. We report a case of Brugada syndrome diagnosed during tyrosine kinase inhibitor therapy in a 69-year-old Caucasian male with meningioma and chronic myeloid leukemia. This case report highlights the importance of an integrated approach among hematologists and cardiologists to ensure appropriate treatment with tyrosine kinase inhibitors in patients affected by chronic myeloid leukemia who also suffer from Brugada syndrome.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12185-013-1395-8DOI Listing
October 2013

Imatinib in very elderly patients with chronic myeloid leukemia in chronic phase: a retrospective study.

Drugs Aging 2013 Aug;30(8):629-37

Dipartimento di Biotecnologie Cellulari ed Ematologia, Università, La Sapienza, Via Benevento 6, 00161, Rome, Italy.

Background: A large number of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) patients are treated with imatinib mesylate outside of clinical trials, which may not be representative of common clinical practice. The age of CML patients enrolled within controlled clinical studies is lower with respect to patients included in population-based registries.

Patients And Methods: To describe the safety and tolerability of imatinib in very elderly CML patients in chronic phase, 211 chronic-phase CML patients aged >75 years were retrospectively analyzed using data collected from 31 institutions in Italy.

Results: The median age at imatinib start was 78.6 years [interquartile range (IR) 76.3-81.4], median time from diagnosis to imatinib start was 1.2 months (IR 0.5-3.7). The starting dose of imatinib was 400 mg/day in 144 patients (68.2 %), >400 mg/day in 4 patients (2.0 %), and <400 mg/day in 63 patients (29.8 %); overall, 94 patients (44.5 %) needed a dose reduction and 27 (12.7 %) discontinued imatinib for toxicity. Grade 3-4 hematologic and extrahematologic toxicities were observed in 40 (18.9 %) and 45 (21.3 %) patients, respectively. After a median observation of 29.8 months (IR 13.0-55.6), 203/211 patients had at least 6 months of observation on imatinib or discontinued before and were evaluable for response and outcome; of them, 183 patients (90.2 %) achieved a complete hematologic response (CHR). Among these 183 patients in CHR, 14 refused any other karyotypic or molecular evaluation, 24 achieved CHR only, and 145 (71.4 %) achieved a cytogenetic response (CyR) of any grade, which was complete (CCyR) in 129 (63.5 %). Among the 129 patients with CCyR, 95 (46.7 %) achieved a major molecular response (MMolR). By multivariate regression analysis, late chronic phase (p = 0.001) and grade 3-4 extrahematologic toxicity (p = 0.007) maintained a negative independent prognostic impact for CCyR, while late chronic phase (p = 0.026), grade 3-4 extrahematologic toxicity (p = 0.007), and lower initial dose of imatinib (p = 0.044) maintained a negative independent prognostic impact for MMolR. The 2-year and 4-year overall survival were 92.6 % (95 % CI 88.7-96.5) and 78.0 % (95 % CI 71.2-84.8), respectively.

Conclusions: Results from this large cohort of patients show that no upper age limit should be applied for the administration of imatinib to patients with chronic-phase CML; the very elderly, including those with concomitant severe diseases, should be offered this treatment. The role of a reduced starting dose of imatinib warrants further studies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s40266-013-0088-6DOI Listing
August 2013

Gene expression profiling of chronic myeloid leukemia with variant t(9;22) reveals a different signature from cases with classic translocation.

Mol Cancer 2013 May 4;12:36. Epub 2013 May 4.

Department of Emergency and Organ Transplantation-Hematology Section, University of Bari, Bari, Italy.

Background: The t(9;22)(q34;q11) generating the BCR/ABL1 fusion gene represents the cytogenetic hallmark of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). About 5-10% of CML cases show variant translocations with the involvement of other chromosomes in addition to chromosomes 9 and 22. The molecular bases of biological differences between CML patients with classic and variant t(9;22) have never been clarified.

Findings: In this study, we performed gene expression microarray analysis to compare CML patients bearing variant rearrangements and those with classic t(9;22)(q34;q11). We identified 59 differentially expressed genes significantly associated with the two analyzed groups. The role of specific candidate genes such as TRIB1 (tribbles homolog 1), PTK2B (protein tyrosine kinase 2 beta), and C5AR1 (complement component 5a receptor 1) is discussed.

Conclusions: Our results reveal that in CML cases with variant t(9;22) there is an enhancement of the MAPK pathway deregulation and show that kinases are a common target of molecular alterations in hematological disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1476-4598-12-36DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3658885PMC
May 2013

Outcome of 82 chronic myeloid leukemia patients treated with nilotinib or dasatinib after failure of two prior tyrosine kinase inhibitors.

Haematologica 2013 Mar 16;98(3):399-403. Epub 2012 Jul 16.

Ematologia con Trapianto, Università degli Studi di Bari Aldo Moro, Bari, Italy.

There have been few reports of a response to dasatinib or nilotinib after failure of two prior sequential tyrosine kinase inhibitors. We report the outcome of 82 chronic phase patients who received nilotinib or dasatinib as third-line alternative tyrosine kinase inhibitor therapy. Thirty-four patients failed to respond to nilotinib and were started on dasatinib as third-line tyrosine kinase inhibitor therapy while 48 patients were switched to nilotinib after dasatinib failure. Overall, we obtained a cytogenetic response in 32 of 82 patients and major molecular response in 13 patients; disease progression occurred in 12 patients. At last follow up, 70 patients (85.4%) were alive with a median overall survival of 46 months. Our results show that third-line tyrosine kinase inhibitor therapy in chronic myeloid leukemia patients after failure of two prior sequential tyrosine kinase inhibitors may induce a response that, in some instances, could prolong overall survival and affect event-free survival.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3324/haematol.2012.064337DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3659922PMC
March 2013

CD3+/Tregs ratio in donor grafts is linked to acute graft-versus-host disease and immunologic recovery after allogeneic peripheral blood stem cell transplantation.

Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 2012 Jun 4;18(6):887-93. Epub 2011 Nov 4.

Hematology Section, Department of Emergency and Organ Transplantation, University of Bari, Bari, Italy.

Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), mediated by mature T cells present in the donor graft, remains a major complication after allogeneic peripheral blood stem cell transplantation (PBSCT). Regulatory T cells (Tregs) (CD4(+)CD25(high)Foxp3(+)) are believed to maintain tolerance and to inhibit GVHD after allogeneic PBSCT (allo-PBSCT). In this study, we analyzed the graft CD3(+)/Tregs ratio (gCD3/Tregs R) and evaluated its impact on acute GVHD (aGVHD) and immunologic recovery after myeloablative allo-PBSCT. We analyzed 65 consecutive patients who underwent transplantation with unmanipulated peripheral blood stem cells from an HLA-identical related donor (n = 45) or an HLA-identical unrelated donor (n = 20). The median CD3(+) and Tregs doses administered were 256 × 10(6)/kg of body weight (range, 67-550 × 10(6)/kg) and 12 × 10(6)/kg (range, 2-21 × 10(6)/kg), respectively; the median gCD3/Tregs R value was 18 (range, 8-250). Patients were subdivided into a high gCD3/Tregs R (≥36) group (HR; n = 26) and a low gCD3/Tregs R (<36) group (LR; n = 39). The incidence of aGVHD (grade II-IV) was lower in the LR group compared with the HR group (8/39 [20%] versus 22/26 [84%]; P < .001). Median cytomegalovirus-specific CD8(+) T lymphocytes were significantly higher in the LR group than in the HR group at 1 month (2 cells/μL versus 0 cells/μL; P < .001), 2 months (6 cells/μL versus 1 cell/μL; P < .001), and 3 months (15 cells/μL versus 3 cells/μL; P < .001) months. Moreover, cytomegalovirus infection/disease was observed in 15% of patients in the LR group versus 69% of patients in the HR group (P < .001). At multivariate logistic regression, gCD3/Tregs R was correlated both with aGVHD (odds ratio, 2.50; 95% confidence interval, 1.30-4.50; P = .05) and with cytomegalovirus infection/disease (odds ratio, 2.35; 95% confidence interval, 0.9-5.00; P = .05). Taken together, our data may suggest that the balance in favor of graft Tregs content is able to mediate protective effects against aGVHD and to maintain an optimal microenviroment for the reconstitution of functional immunity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbmt.2011.10.039DOI Listing
June 2012

Health-related quality of life in chronic myeloid leukemia patients receiving long-term therapy with imatinib compared with the general population.

Blood 2011 Oct 12;118(17):4554-60. Epub 2011 Jul 12.

Italian Group for Adult Hematologic Diseases, Data Center and Health Outcomes Research Unit, Rome, Italy.

The main objective of this study was to investigate whether patients with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) in treatment with long-term therapy imatinib have a different health-related quality-of-life (HRQOL) profile compared with the general population. In total, 448 CML patients were enrolled, and the SF-36 Health Survey was used to compare generic HRQOL profiles. Symptoms were also assessed. HRQOL comparisons were adjusted for key possible confounders. The median age of patients was 57 years and the median time of imatinib treatment was 5 years (range 3-9 years). The largest HRQOL differences were found in younger patients. In particular, patients aged between 18 and 39 years had marked impairments in role limitations because of physical and emotional problems, respectively: -22.6 (P < .001), -22.3 (P < .001). Patients with CML age 60 or older had a HRQOL profile very similar to that reported by the general population. Women had a worse profile than men when each were compared with their peers in the general population. Fatigue was the most frequently reported symptom. The HRQOL of CML patients is comparable with that of population norms in many areas, however, younger and female patients seem to report the major limitations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1182/blood-2011-04-347575DOI Listing
October 2011

Dasatinib is safe and effective in unselected chronic myeloid leukaemia elderly patients resistant/intolerant to imatinib.

Leuk Res 2011 Sep 25;35(9):1164-9. Epub 2011 Jun 25.

Dipartimento di Biotecnologie Cellulari ed Ematologia, Università La Sapienza, Rome, Italy.

To highlight dasatinib role in the elderly, 125 unselected patients with CP-CML aged >60 years resistant/intolerant to imatinib were retrospectively evaluated. Grade 3-4 haematological and extra-haematological toxicities were reported in 39 (31.2%) and 34 (27.2%) patients; grade 3-4 haematological toxicity was higher in patients with 140 mg starting dose (50.0% vs 19.6%, p=0.001). Grade 3-4 pleuro-pericardial effusions occurred in 10 patients (8.0%). Dose reductions were more common in patients with 140 mg (88.4% vs 26.7%, p<0.001). Of 122 evaluable patients, 72 (59.1%) had cytogenetic response [12 (9.8%) partial, 60 (49.3%) complete]. Overall, 38/60 patients in complete CyR also achieved a molecular response. Cumulative OS at 24 and 48 months were 93.1% (95% CI 88.4-97.8) and 84.2% (95% CI 74.6-93.7). Dasatinib, at the recommended dose of 100mg/day, is effective and safe also in unselected elderly subjects.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.leukres.2011.05.015DOI Listing
September 2011

Charlson comorbidity index and adult comorbidity evaluation-27 scores might predict treatment compliance and development of pleural effusions in elderly patients with chronic myeloid leukemia treated with second-line dasatinib.

Haematologica 2011 Oct 17;96(10):1457-61. Epub 2011 Jun 17.

Dipartimento di Biotecnologie Cellulari ed Ematologia, Università La Sapienza, Roma, Italy.

Background: Comorbidities may affect survival and choice of treatment among cancer patients. In fact, comorbidities have been identified as significant determinants of response to therapy in older patients with acute myeloid leukemia, breast cancer, head and neck cancer, and lung cancer. The Charlson comorbidity index and adult comorbidity evaluation-27 are lists of comorbidities with a weight assigned from 1 to 6 for the former and from 0 to 3 for the latter score, derived from relative risk estimates of a proportional hazard regression model using clinical data.

Design And Methods: We retrospectively evaluated the Charlson index and adult comorbidity evaluation-27 score in a cohort of 125 elderly (> 60 years) patients with chronic phase chronic myeloid leukemia who received dasatinib after showing resistance or intolerance to imatinib with the aim of establishing associations between comorbidities and the development of pleural effusions or compliance with the drug treatment.

Results: We found a significant association between the Charlson index as well as the adult comorbidity evaluation-27 score and the rate of drug reduction or suspension: with regards to the Charlson index, 49% of score 0 patients had a dose reduction compared to 63% of patients with score 1, 74% of those with score 2 and 100% of patients with score 3-5 (P=0.03); with regards to the adult comorbidity evaluation-27 score, 45% of patients had score 0-1 and 69% of patients with score 2-3 had a dose reduction. Of the 65 patients with Charlson score 0, 29% had at least one suspension of treatment (79% for hematologic and 21% for non-hematologic toxicity), compared to 46% of patients with score 1 (37% for hematologic and 69% for non-hematologic toxicity), 58% of patients with score 2 (36% for hematologic and 64% for non-hematologic toxicity) and 100% of patients with score 3 or 4 (all patients for both types of toxicity). High adult comorbidity index-27 scores identified patients at high risk of grade 3/4 hematologic toxicity. Forty-one patients (32.8%) experienced pleural effusion during treatment: the highest scores for both indices were associated with an increased risk of pleural effusions.

Conclusions: In elderly patients with chronic myeloid leukemia treated with dasatinib, the rate of drug reduction or suspension and the incidence of pleural effusions seem to be associated with the presence of comorbidities: stratification according to the Charlson index and adult comorbidity evaluation-27 score before dasatinib therapy may enable the identification of patients at risk of major toxicities.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3324/haematol.2011.041251DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3186306PMC
October 2011

Non random distribution of genomic features in breakpoint regions involved in chronic myeloid leukemia cases with variant t(9;22) or additional chromosomal rearrangements.

Mol Cancer 2010 May 25;9:120. Epub 2010 May 25.

Hematology, University of Bari, 70124 Bari, Italy.

Background: The t(9;22)(q34;q11), generating the Philadelphia (Ph) chromosome, is found in more than 90% of patients with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). As a result of the translocation, the 3' portion of the ABL1 oncogene is transposed from 9q34 to the 5' portion of the BCR gene on chromosome 22 to form the BCR/ABL1 fusion gene. At diagnosis, in 5-10% of CML patients the Ph chromosome is derived from variant translocations other than the standard t(9;22).

Results: We report a molecular cytogenetic study of 452 consecutive CML patients at diagnosis, that revealed 50 cases identifying three main subgroups: i) cases with variant chromosomal rearrangements other than the classic t(9;22)(q34;q11) (9.5%); ii) cases with cryptic insertions of ABL1 into BCR, or vice versa (1.3%); iii) cases bearing additional chromosomal rearrangements concomitant to the t(9;22) (1.1%). For each cytogenetic group, the mechanism at the basis of the rearrangement is discussed.All breakpoints on other chromosomes involved in variant t(9;22) and in additional rearrangements have been characterized for the first time by Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization (FISH) experiments and bioinformatic analyses. This study revealed a high content of Alu repeats, genes density, GC frequency, and miRNAs in the great majority of the analyzed breakpoints.

Conclusions: Taken together with literature data about CML with variant t(9;22), our findings identified several new cytogenetic breakpoints as hotspots for recombination, demonstrating that the involvement of chromosomes other than 9 and 22 is not a random event but could depend on specific genomic features. The presence of several genes and/or miRNAs at the identified breakpoints suggests their potential involvement in the CML pathogenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1476-4598-9-120DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2887383PMC
May 2010

Recovery of CMV-specific CD8+ T cells and Tregs after allogeneic peripheral blood stem cell transplantation.

Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 2011 Apr 10;17(4):550-7. Epub 2010 May 10.

Hematology Section, Department of Pathology and Hematology, University of Bari, Piazza Giulio Cesare 11, Bari, Italy.

Recovery of cytomegalovirus (CMV)-specific CD8+ T cells after allogeneic stem cell transplantation (SCT) is critical for protection against CMV infection and disease. Moreover, Foxp3+CD4+CD25(high) regulatory T cells (Tregs) are a major regulator of adaptive immunity, preventing graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) and so promoting timely and complete immune recovery. The aim of our study was to evaluate the recovery of circulating tetramer-based CMV-specific CD8+ T cells and T regs in 46 patients after allogeneic peripheral blood SCT (PBSCT). CMV infection and/or disease was observed in 7% and 94% of patients with or without CMV-specific CD8+ T cells recovery (P < .001), and in 77% and 4% of patients with or without acute GVHD (aGVHD) (P < .001), respectively. T regs values were higher in patients without than with CMV infection and/or disease at 2 (P < .001) and 3 months (P < .001) after allogeneic PBSCT, respectively. Moreover, we observed a positive correlation between T regs and the recovery of CMV-specific CD8+ T cells at 2 (r = .61, P < .0001) and 3 (r = .72, P < .00001) months, respectively. Tregs were higher in patients without than with aGVHD at 1, 2 (P < .001) and 3 months (P < .0001), respectively. At multivariate logistic regression, aGVHD (odds ratio [OR]: 2.60, 95% confidence interval [CI] [1.3-5.0], P = .0006) and CMV-specific CD8+ T cells recovery (OR:2.25, 95% CI [1.2-4.8], P = .05) were correlated with CMV infection and/or disease, whereas no correlation was found for Tregs, absolute neutrophil count, patients' and donors' age, disease status pretransplantation, type of disease, and CMV serology. Taken together, our data may suggest the existence of a correlation between Tregs and the recovery of CMV-specific CD8+ T cells; Tregs may preserve an optimal microenvironment for the reconstitution of functional immunity and mediate protective effects against aGVHD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbmt.2010.04.011DOI Listing
April 2011

Chromosome 14q32 translocations involving the immunoglobulin heavy chain locus in chronic lymphocytic leukaemia identify a disease subset with poor prognosis.

Br J Haematol 2008 Aug 28;142(4):529-37. Epub 2008 Jun 28.

Section of Haematology, Department of Biomedical Sciences and Advanced Therapies, University of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy.

Immunophenotypic studies, fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) and conventional karyotyping were used to define the clinicobiological significance of 14q32 translocations involving the immunoglobulin gene locus (14q32/IGH) in 252 chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) patients. The following regions were studied: 13q14, centromere 12, 6q21; 11q22/ATM; 17p13/TP53, 14q32/IGH. Patients were classified as group 1 (favourable, i.e. 13q-single or normal), group 2 (intermediate risk, i.e. +12, 6q-, 1-2 anomalies), group 3 (unfavourable, i.e. 17p-, 11q-, complex karyotype), or group 4 (14q32/IGH translocation). Endpoints were treatment-free survival (TFS) and overall survival (OS). One hundred and ten patients were included in group 1, 99 in group 2, 25 in group 3 and 18 in group 4. 14q32/IGH translocation partners were identified in eight cases (BCL2 in five cases, BCL11A, CCND3 and CDK6 in one case each). group 4 showed shorter TFS versus groups 2 and 1 (25% patients treated at 2 months vs. 12 (P = 0.02) and 20 months (P = 0.002), respectively) and shorter OS (25% patients dead at 18 months versus 50 (P = 0.0003) and >60 months (P < 0.0001) respectively. The 14q32/IGH translocation maintained prognostic significance at multivariate analysis on TFS (P = 0.025) and OS (P < 0.001), along with advanced stage and CD38+. These findings show that the 14q32/IGH translocation predicts for an unfavourable outcome in CLL and that this cytogenetic subset might be included as a separate entity in a hierarchical cytogenetic classification of CLL.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2141.2008.07227.xDOI Listing
August 2008

Validation of an interphase fluorescence in situ hybridization approach for the detection of MLL gene rearrangements and of the MLL/AF9 fusion in acute myeloid leukemia.

Haematologica 2006 Mar 17;91(3):381-5. Epub 2006 Feb 17.

Dipartimento di Scienze Biomediche e Terapie Avanzate, Sezione di Ematologia, University of Ferrara, Italy.

To validate a 2-step FISH assay for the identification of the t(9;11)(p22;q23), 96 acute myeloid leukemias were studied by cytogenetic analysis, FISH and molecular biology. After a first FISH step using an MLL probe, 24/27 cases with 11q23 break showed MLL rearrangement. Southern blotting confirmed FISH data. In the second step, 24 cases with MLL rearrangement were studied using MLL and AF9 probes: 17/18 cases with t(9;11) showed MLL/AF9 fusion. In 6 patients with 11q23/MLL rearrangements other than t(9;11), FISH confirmed MLL involvement and excluded AF9 involvement. This is a reliable method for the identification of MLL/AF9 fusion in interphase cells, allowing for a reclassification of cases with suboptimal chromosome morphology. The frequency of deletion surrounding MLL and AF9 breakpoint is low.
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March 2006

Dendritic cells and vascular endothelial growth factor in colorectal cancer: correlations with clinicobiological findings.

Oncology 2005 7;68(2-3):276-84. Epub 2005 Jul 7.

Section of Hematology, Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy.

Objective: Dendritic cells (DC) are central to the development of immune system responses. In a cohort of 54 patients affected by colorectal cancer, we prospectively investigated the number of peripheral blood (PB) DC type 1 (DC1) and type 2 (DC2) and correlated their counts and functionality to the stage of the disease and to vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) levels.

Results: At diagnosis, compared with healthy controls, patients presented reduced PBDC1 and PBDC2 numbers (p < 0.001). Moreover, in cancer patients, PBDC showed low levels of DC-associated antigens (HLA DR, p = 0.004; CD11c, p < 0.001; CD83, p = 0.01; CD86, p = 0.007 and Mannose receptor, p = 0.029), an upregulation of CXCR4 (p = 0.017) and a reduced T cell stimulation capability (p < 0.001). DC1 and DC2 loss was higher in stage D versus stage ABC patients (p = 0.003 and p = 0.002, respectively); surgery and chemotherapy appeared to attenuate a DC defect, although the restoration of normal PBDC levels is completed only at 6 and 12 months after diagnosis, respectively. In this series of patients, PBDC1 and PBDC2 numbers inversely correlated with VEGF serum levels (p < 0.001), suggesting a possible effect of this cytokine on DC compartment. In culture, the exposure of monocyte-derived DC to VEGF produced a dramatic alteration of DC differentiation by (1) induction of apoptosis, (2) alteration of DC immunophenotypic profile and (3) increased CXCR4 expression. Exposure to anti-VEGF blocking antibodies reversed VEGF inhibitory effects in all cases.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that in colorectal cancer patients there is a numerical and functional impairment of PBDC compartment possibly related to the stage of the disease and to VEGF levels.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000086784DOI Listing
August 2005