Publications by authors named "Mario Annunziata"

59 Publications

Targeting Chronic Myeloid Leukemia Stem/Progenitor Cells Using Venetoclax-Loaded Immunoliposome.

Cancers (Basel) 2021 Mar 15;13(6). Epub 2021 Mar 15.

Department of Clinical and Biological Sciences, University of Turin, 10043 Turin, Italy.

CML is a hematopoietic stem-cell disorder emanating from breakpoint cluster region/Abelson murine leukemia 1 (BCR/ABL) translocation. Introduction of different TKIs revolutionized treatment outcome in CML patients, but CML LSCs seem insensitive to TKIs and are detectable in newly diagnosed and resistant CML patients and in patients who discontinued therapy. It has been reported that CML LSCs aberrantly express some CD markers such as CD26 that can be used for the diagnosis and for targeting. In this study, we confirmed the presence of CD26+ CML LSCs in newly diagnosed and resistant CML patients. To selectively target CML LSCs/progenitor cells that express CD26 and to spare normal HSCs/progenitor cells, we designed a venetoclax-loaded immunoliposome (IL-VX). Our results showed that by using this system we could selectively target CD26+ cells while sparing CD26- cells. The efficiency of venetoclax in targeting CML LSCs has been reported and our system demonstrated a higher potency in cell death induction in comparison to free venetoclax. Meanwhile, treatment of patient samples with IL-VX significantly reduced CD26+ cells in both stem cells and progenitor cells population. In conclusion, this approach showed that selective elimination of CD26+ CML LSCs/progenitor cells can be obtained in vitro, which might allow in vivo reduction of side effects and attainment of treatment-free, long-lasting remission in CML patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/cancers13061311DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8000981PMC
March 2021

Clinical and Psychological Factors to Consider in Achieving Treatment-Free Remission in Patients With Chronic Myeloid Leukemia.

Front Oncol 2021 10;11:631570. Epub 2021 Mar 10.

Dipartimento di Diagnostica per Immagini, Radioterapia Oncologica ed Ematologia, Fondazione Policlinico Universitario A. Gemelli, Istituto di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico, Roma, Italy.

Treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) has evolved dramatically in recent years. In this regard, the introduction of second-generation tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI) has revolutionized therapeutic goals, and it is now desirable to obtain treatment-free remission (TFR), i.e. when a patient who has stopped TKI therapy maintains a major molecular response and does not need to restart treatment. This report summarizes the main findings from a group of expert hematologists in Italy who met to discuss treatment and management of patients with CML with focus on broad-ranging aspects of TFR. A survey was used to obtain information about the clinicians' experience with TFR and to better understand the clinical and psychological issues that patients and physicians face when considering TFR. The overall goal was to explore the possibility of discontinuing treatment from multiple points of view, considering both clinical aspects of TFR as well as psychological management of patients. Practical information is provided on aspects associated with initiating TFR, clinical data supporting it, the role of monitoring, and management of discontinuation-related adverse events. This publication outlines many of the shortcomings and highlights proposed solutions for routine clinical practice, and provides an overview of the literature relative to TFR.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fonc.2021.631570DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7987948PMC
March 2021

The role of ponatinib in adult BCR-ABL1 positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia after allogeneic transplantation: a real-life retrospective multicenter study.

Ann Hematol 2021 Mar 28. Epub 2021 Mar 28.

Divisione di Ematologia con Trapianto di midollo osseo - Azienda ospedaliero, universitaria Policlinico Vittorio Emanuele, Catania, Italy.

The experience of third-generation tyrosine kinase inhibitor ponatinib treatment in Philadelphia chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (Ph'+ ALL) patients post-allogeneic transplantation is limited. We retrospectively collected data on 25 Ph'+ ALL patients who were started on ponatinib after allogeneic transplantation between July 2015 and July 2019 from nine transplantation centers in Italy. Ponatinib was given in prophylaxis in five (20%), as pre-emptive treatment in seven (28%), and as salvage therapy in thirteen (52%) patients. It was combined with donor leukocyte infusions in ten patients. Half of the patients (12/25) harbored T315I mutation of BCR/ABL1, while in the remaining mutational analysis was negative or not performed. Among the 20 patients who received ponatinib as pre-emptive/salvage treatment, complete molecular response was achieved in 15 (75%) patients. Estimated overall survival at 2-year post-initiation of treatment in the whole cohort was 65% (respectively 60%, 60%, and 78% for the prophylaxis, pre-emptive, and salvage therapy groups). In patients with T315I-positive mutational status, the estimated 2-year survival was 40%. Fourteen patients (56%) experienced toxicity, requiring temporary or definitive suspension of treatment. In conclusion, treatment of Ph'+ ALL patients with ponatinib after transplantation is effective, although the question of adequate drug dose and treatment duration remains unanswered.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00277-021-04504-0DOI Listing
March 2021

Bosutinib in the real-life treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia patients aged >65 years resistant/intolerant to previous tyrosine-kinase inhibitors.

Hematol Oncol 2021 Feb 22. Epub 2021 Feb 22.

Hematology, Department of Translational and Precision Medicine, Policlinico Umberto I, Sapienza University, Rome, Italy.

To evaluate the role of bosutinib in elderly patients aged >65 years with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), a real-life cohort of 101 chronic-phase CML patients followed up in 23 Italian centers and treated with bosutinib in second or a subsequent line was retrospectively evaluated. Starting dose of bosutinib was 500 mg/day in 25 patients (24.8%), 400 mg/day in 7 patients (6.9%), 300 mg/day in 33 patients (32.7%), 200 mg/day in 34 patients (33.6%), and 100 mg/day in 2 patients (2.0%). Grade 3/4 hematological toxicity occurred in 7/101 patients (6.9%) and grade 3/4 extra-hematological toxicity in 19/101 patients (18.8%). Permanent bosutinib discontinuation due to toxicity was needed in 12 patients (11.9%). Among the 96 patients evaluable for response, 74 (77.0%) achieved a complete cytogenetic response (CCyR), while 64 of these 74 patients in CCyR (66.6% of all 96 evaluable patients) also achieved a molecular response (MR) (major MR [MR 3.0] in 21 [21.8%], deep MR [MR 4.0/4.5] in 43 [44.8%]). The 3-year event-free survival and overall survival of the whole patients' cohort from bosutinib start were 60.9% (CI 95% 49.3-72.5) and 86.4% (CI 95% 77.2-95.6), respectively. Our real-life data show that bosutinib is effective, with a favorable safety profile, also in elderly patients with important comorbidities and resistance and/or intolerance to previous tyrosine-kinase inhibitor treatments. As a consequence, it could play a significant role in current clinical practice for frail patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hon.2851DOI Listing
February 2021

Next-generation sequencing improves BCR-ABL1 mutation detection in Philadelphia chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

Br J Haematol 2021 Apr 6;193(2):271-279. Epub 2021 Jan 6.

Department of Experimental, Diagnostic and Specialty Medicine, Institute of Hematology "L. e A. Seràgnoli", University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy.

BCR-ABL1 kinase domain mutation testing in tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI)-resistant Philadelphia chromosome-positive (Ph+) acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) patients is routinely performed by Sanger sequencing (SS). Recently, next-generation sequencing (NGS)-based approaches have been developed that afford greater sensitivity and straightforward discrimination between compound and polyclonal mutations. We performed a study to compare the results of SS and NGS in a consecutive cohort of 171 Ph+ ALL patients. At diagnosis, 0/44 and 3/44 patients were positive for mutations by SS and NGS respectively. Out of 47 patients with haematologic resistance, 45 had mutations according to both methods, but in 25 patients NGS revealed additional mutations undetectable by SS. Out of 80 patients in complete haematologic response but with BCR-ABL1 ≥0·1%, 28 (35%) and 52 (65%) were positive by SS and NGS respectively. Moreover, in 12 patients positive by SS, NGS detected additional mutations. NGS resolved clonal complexity in 34 patients with multiple mutations at the same or different codons and identified 35 compound mutations. Our study demonstrates that, in Ph+ ALL on TKI therapy, NGS enables more accurate assessment of mutation status both in patients who fail therapy and in patients with minimal residual disease above 0·1%.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bjh.17301DOI Listing
April 2021

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels and risk of arterial occlusive events in chronic myeloid leukemia patients treated with nilotinib.

Ann Hematol 2021 Jan 3. Epub 2021 Jan 3.

Hematology Unit, Fondazione IRCCS Ca' Granda Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, Milan, Italy.

Recommendations for dyslipidemia management aimed at reducing arterial occlusive events (AOEs) have been recently published. So far, no data have been reported on the management of dyslipidemia in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) patients treated with nilotinib. We investigated 369 CML adult patients, stratified according to the new Systematic Coronary Risk Evaluation (SCORE) scoring system. Plasma levels of cholesterol, HDL, LDL, and triglycerides were measured prior to the start of nilotinib and after 3, 6, and 12 months. The 5-year cumulative incidence of AOEs was 15.9%. Patients with cholesterol levels > 200 mg/dL and LDL > 70 mg/dL 3 months after treatment showed a significantly higher incidence of AOEs (21.9 ± 4.6% vs 6.2 ± 2.5, P = 0.003). Patients belonging to the high and very high SCORE risk group showed a significant increase of AOEs (34.4 ± 6% vs 10 ± 2.1%, P < 0.001). In multivariate analysis, both high cholesterol and LDL levels and a high and very high SCORE risk remained significantly associated with the risk of AOEs (P = 0.008; HR = 3.5; 95% CI = 1.4-8.7 and P < 0.001; HR = 4.4; 95% CI = 2-9.8, respectively). Overall, 78 patients (21.1%) presented dyslipidemia at the time of CML diagnosis and 88 (23.3%) after starting nilotinib, but only 26 of them (29.5%) were treated with statins.Low LDL and cholesterol plasma levels are associated with a significant lower risk of AOEs in CML patients treated with nilotinib in the real life.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00277-020-04392-wDOI Listing
January 2021

Current Strategies and Future Directions to Achieve Deep Molecular Response and Treatment-Free Remission in Chronic Myeloid Leukemia.

Front Oncol 2020 2;10:883. Epub 2020 Jun 2.

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

The treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) has been radically changed by the approval of tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), which target BCR-ABL1 kinase activity. CML is now managed as a chronic disease requiring long-term treatment and close molecular monitoring. It has been shown that in a substantial number of patients who have achieved a stable deep molecular response (DMR), TKI treatment can be safely discontinued without loss of response. Therefore, treatment-free remission (TFR), through the achievement of a DMR, is increasingly regarded as a feasible treatment goal in many CML patients. However, only nilotinib has approval in this setting and a number of controversial aspects remain regarding treatment choices and timings, predictive factors, patient communication, and optimal strategies to achieve successful TFR. This narrative review aims to provide a comprehensive overview on how to optimize the path to DMR and TFR in patients with CML, and discusses recent data and future directions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fonc.2020.00883DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7280484PMC
June 2020

Renin angiotensin system inhibitors reduce the incidence of arterial thrombotic events in patients with hypertension and chronic myeloid leukemia treated with second- or third-generation tyrosine kinase inhibitors.

Ann Hematol 2020 Jul 30;99(7):1525-1530. Epub 2020 May 30.

Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Section of Hematology, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy.

Hypertension is a commonly reported comorbidity in patients diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), and its management represents a challenge in patients treated with 2nd- or 3rd-generation tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), considering their additional cardiovascular (CV) toxicity. The renin angiotensin system (RAS) contributes to hypertension genesis and plays an important role in atherosclerosis development, proliferation, and differentiation of myeloid hematopoietic cells. We analyzed a cohort of 192 patients with hypertension at CML diagnosis, who were treated with 2nd- or 3rd-generation TKIs, and evaluated the efficacy of RAS inhibitors (angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEi) and angiotensin-II receptor blockers (ARBs)) in the prevention of arterial occlusive events (AOEs), as compared with other drug classes. The 5-year cumulative incidence of AOEs was 32.7 ± 4.2%. Patients with SCORE ≥ 5% (high-very-high) showed a significantly higher incidence of AOEs (33.7 ± 7.6% vs 13.6 ± 4.8%, p = 0.006). The AOE incidence was significantly lower in patients treated with RAS inhibitors (14.8 ± 4.2% vs 44 ± 1%, p < 0.001, HR = 0.283). The difference in the low and intermediate Sokal risk group was confirmed but not in the high-risk group, where a lower RAS expression has been reported. Our data suggest that RAS inhibitors may represent an optimal treatment in patients with hypertension and CML, treated with 2nd or 3rd TKIs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00277-020-04102-6DOI Listing
July 2020

Remission of early persistent cladribine-induced neutropenia after filgrastim therapy in a patient with Relapsing - Remitting Multiple Sclerosis.

Mult Scler Relat Disord 2020 Aug 3;43:102151. Epub 2020 May 3.

Multiple Sclerosis Center "A. Cardarelli "Hospital, Naples, Italy; Neurological Clinic and Stroke Unit "A. Cardarelli "Hospital, Naples, Italy.

Background: Cladribine tablets were recently approved for the treatment of Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis (RRMS), reducing B cells and T cells, followed by reconstitution of the adaptive immune system, with transient and mild effects on the innate one. Cladribine is also the standard first-line and subsequent treatment for Hairy-Cell Leukemia (HCL), frequently complicated by neutropenic fever. Recombinant human Granulocyte Colony-Stimulating Factor (G-CSF; Filgrastim) has been proved to reduce neutropenia by increasing neutrophil count.

Case Report: To the best of our knowledge, we report the first case of early and persistent high grade non febrile neutropenia after oral cladribine therapy in a 49-year-old RR-MS patient, successfully treated with Filgrastim.

Conclusions: This report suggests that in selected cases, cladribine requires early monitoring of blood sample as it may be responsible for early neutropenia, requiring specific treatment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.msard.2020.102151DOI Listing
August 2020

The multi-tyrosine kinase inhibitor ponatinib for chronic myeloid leukemia: Real-world data.

Eur J Haematol 2020 Jul 15;105(1):3-15. Epub 2020 Mar 15.

Hematology and Transplant Unit, Policlinico of Bari, Bari, Italy.

Development of the highly selective targeted tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) has expanded the therapeutic options for chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). Patients undergoing TKI therapy should be closely monitored to ensure that the best therapeutic response and quality of life are achieved, and to control suboptimal responses and adverse events. Despite the high rate of response using current first-line TKIs, treatment failure may still occur, and resistance is considered a challenge in the treatment of patients with CML. The third-generation TKI, ponatinib, is a potent orally bioavailable pan BCR-ABL inhibitor that inhibits both wild-type and mutant BCR-ABL1 kinase, including the "gatekeeper" T315I mutation, which is resistant to all other currently available TKIs. This paper reviews the effectiveness, feasibility, and safety of ponatinib in the real-life clinical management of CML. Potential prognostic factors in identifying patients most likely to benefit from ponatinib treatment will be discussed, and case presentations illustrating situations encountered in real-life clinical practice are described. Ponatinib is effective in patients who have received prior TKIs in clinical studies as well as under real-life conditions. Nevertheless, the risk/benefit balance must be evaluated for each patient, particularly considering disease state, mutational status, treatment line, intolerance/resistance to prior TKIs, age, frailty, and specific comorbidities.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ejh.13408DOI Listing
July 2020

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

Managing chronic myeloid leukemia for treatment-free remission: a proposal from the GIMEMA CML WP.

Blood Adv 2019 12;3(24):4280-4290

Università Federico II, Naples, Italy.

Several papers authored by international experts have proposed recommendations on the management of BCR-ABL1+ chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). Following these recommendations, survival of CML patients has become very close to normal. The next, ambitious, step is to bring as many patients as possible into a condition of treatment-free remission (TFR). The Gruppo Italiano Malattie EMatologiche dell'Adulto (GIMEMA; Italian Group for Hematologic Diseases of the Adult) CML Working Party (WP) has developed a project aimed at selecting the treatment policies that may increase the probability of TFR, taking into account 4 variables: the need for TFR, the tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), the characteristics of leukemia, and the patient. A Delphi-like method was used to reach a consensus among the representatives of 50 centers of the CML WP. A consensus was reached on the assessment of disease risk (EUTOS Long Term Survival [ELTS] score), on the definition of the most appropriate age boundaries for the choice of first-line treatment, on the choice of the TKI for first-line treatment, and on the definition of the responses that do not require a change of the TKI (BCR-ABL1 ≤10% at 3 months, ≤1% at 6 months, ≤0.1% at 12 months, ≤0.01% at 24 months), and of the responses that require a change of the TKI, when the goal is TFR (BCR-ABL1 >10% at 3 and 6 months, >1% at 12 months, and >0.1% at 24 months). These suggestions may help optimize the treatment strategy for TFR.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1182/bloodadvances.2019000865DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6929396PMC
December 2019

Long-term mortality rate for cardiovascular disease in 656 chronic myeloid leukaemia patients treated with second- and third-generation tyrosine kinase inhibitors.

Int J Cardiol 2020 02 24;301:163-166. Epub 2019 Oct 24.

Hematology Unit, Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria Senese, University of Siena, Siena, Italy.

Background: Limited information is available regarding the rate of long-term cardiovascular (CV) mortality in chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) patients treated with second- and third-generation tyrosine kinase inhibitors (2/3 TKIs) in the real-life practice.

Methods: We identified 656 consecutive CML patients treated with nilotinib, dasatinib, bosutinib and ponatinib.

Results: The 15-year CV-mortality free survival was 93 ± 2.8%. Age ≥65 years (p = 0.005) and a positive history of CV disease (p = 0.04) were significantly associated with a lower CV-mortality free survival. CV disease accounted for 16.5% and 5% of potential years of life lost (PYLL) in male and female patients, respectively. The standard mortality ratio (SMR) following ischemic heart disease (IHD) was 3.9 in males and 3.8 in female patients, meaning an excess of IHD deaths observed, in comparison with the population of control.

Conclusion: Prevention strategies based on CV risk factors, in particular in those patients with a previous history of CV disease, should be considered.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijcard.2019.10.036DOI Listing
February 2020

Outcome of very elderly chronic myeloid leukaemia patients treated with imatinib frontline.

Ann Hematol 2019 Oct 7;98(10):2329-2338. Epub 2019 Aug 7.

Institute of Hematology, Università Cattolica SacroCuore, Rome, Italy.

Very elderly (> 75 years) chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) patients at diagnosis are sometimes treated with different doses of imatinib (IM) based on concomitant diseases and physicians' judgement. However, data on long-term follow-up of these patients are still lacking. To investigate treatment response and outcome, we retrospectively revised an Italian database of 263 very elderly CML patients receiving IM from the time of diagnosis. Median age at diagnosis was 78.5 years and 56% of patients had 2 or 3 comorbidities. A complete haematological and cytogenetic response were achieved in 244 (92.8%) and 184 (69.9%) patients, respectively. In 148 cases (56.2%), a major molecular response was observed, which was deep in 63 cases (24%). A blastic phase occurred in 11 patients (4.2%). After a median follow-up of 45.0 months, 93 patients have died (9 from disease progression) and 104 (39.5%) are still in treatment with IM. Incidence of grades 3-4 haematological and non-haematological toxicity was similar to those reported in younger patients. Five-year event-free survival was 54.5% and 45.2% in patients ≤ 80 years and > 80 years, respectively (p = 0.098). Five years OS was 75.7% and 61.6% in patients ≤80 years and > 80 years, respectively (p = 0.003). These findings show that IM plays an important role in frontline treatment of very elderly CML patients without increased toxicity and any effort to treat these patients with standard doses should be made in order to achieve responses as in younger subjects.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00277-019-03767-yDOI Listing
October 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

Recurrent arterial occlusive events in patients with chronic myeloid leukemia treated with second- and third-generation tyrosine kinase inhibitors and role of secondary prevention.

Int J Cardiol 2019 08 17;288:124-127. Epub 2019 Apr 17.

Hematology, Department of Cellular Biotechnologies and Hematology, Sapienza University, Rome, Italy.

Background: Risk of death is particularly high in patients with a previous history of arterial occlusive events (AOEs) and the probability for a recurrent event is around 20%. Little is known about recurrent AOE and the role of secondary prevention in patients with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML) with previous AOE, treated with second- and third-generation tyrosine kinase inhibitors (2/3 TKIs), nilotinib, dasatinib, bosutinib and ponatinib.

Methods: We identified a real-life cohort of 57 consecutive adult CML patients treated with 2/3 TKI. All patients had a previous history of AOE. Ongoing use of secondary prevention of AOE (including antiplatelet agents, anticoagulant therapy, and statins) before starting a 2/3 TKI was recorded, as well as CV risk factors.

Results: The 60-month cumulative incidence rate of recurrent AOEs was 47.8 ± 10.9%. Despite a history of AOE, 10 patients (16%) were not receiving secondary preventative measures. Patients treated with nilotinib and ponatinib showed a higher incidence of recurrent AOEs (76.7 ± 14.3% and 64 ± 20.1%, respectively) than those treated with dasatinib and bosutinib (44 ± 24.2% and 30.5 ± 15.5%, respectively) (p = 0.01). Only treatment with a 2/3 TKI given as second or subsequent line therapy showed a significant association with an increased incidence of recurrent AOE (p = 0.039). Overall, 17 recurrent AOEs were observed; 3 CV-related deaths were reported.

Conclusion: CML patients with a previous history of AOE treated with 2/3 TKI represent a particular patient population with a higher probability of experiencing a recurrent AOE; individualized treatment is needed to optimize secondary prevention.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijcard.2019.04.051DOI Listing
August 2019

Adding hydroxyurea in combination with ruxolitinib improves clinical responses in hyperproliferative forms of myelofibrosis.

Cancer Med 2019 06 17;8(6):2802-2809. Epub 2019 Apr 17.

Department of Medicine and Surgery, Hematology and Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant Center, University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Italy.

Ruxolitinib, an orally bioavailable and selective inhibitor of Janus kinase 1 (JAK1) and JAK2, significantly reduces splenomegaly and disease-related symptoms in patients with myelofibrosis (MF). However, no clear survival benefit has been demonstrated, which may in part reflect suboptimal drug exposure related to lower dosages needed to minimize hematological toxicity, specifically cytopenias. Furthermore, the optimal management of specific conditions such as leukocytosis or thrombocytosis in patients under ruxolitinib therapy is still undefined. In these cases, combining ruxolitinib with a cytoreductive agent like hydroxyurea might improve hematological response. This observational multi-center study enrolled 20 adult patients with intermediate- or high-risk primary MF, post- polycythemia vera MF, or postessential thrombocythemia MF with hyperproliferative manifestations of the disease and WBC and/or platelet counts not controlled by ruxolitinib therapy. The patients received treatment with a combination of ruxolitinib and hydroxyurea. A clinical response of any type was obtained in 8 patients (40%) during ruxolitinib monotherapy and in 17 patients (85%) during ruxolitinib-hydroxyurea combination (P = 0.003). After a median duration of 12.4 months of combination therapy, 16/20 patients had a hematological response; 14/17 patients who had started combination therapy to control WBC count and 2/3 who started in order to reduce platelets count. The number of patients requiring ruxolitinib dosage reduction or discontinuations was lower during combination therapy and, at the end of follow-up the median ruxolitinib dose was increased in 50% of patients. In conclusion, the combination of hydroxyurea with ruxolitinib yielded a high clinical response rate and increased ruxolitinib exposure in patients with hyperproliferative forms of MF.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cam4.2147DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6558489PMC
June 2019

Arterial occlusive events in chronic myeloid leukemia patients treated with ponatinib in the real-life practice are predicted by the Systematic Coronary Risk Evaluation (SCORE) chart.

Hematol Oncol 2019 Aug 17;37(3):296-302. Epub 2019 Apr 17.

Hematology, Department of Cellular Biotechnologies and Hematology, Sapienza University, Rome, Italy.

Arterial occlusive events (AOEs) represent emerging complications in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) patients treated with ponatinib. We identified 85 consecutive CML adult patients who were treated with ponatinib in 17 Italian centers. Patients were stratified according to the Systematic Coronary Risk Evaluation (SCORE) assessment, based on sex, age, smoking habits, systolic blood pressure, and total cholesterol levels. The 60-month cumulative incidence rate of AOEs excluding hypertension was 25.7%. Hypertension was reported in 14.1% of patients. The median time of exposure to ponatinib was 28 months (range, 3-69 months). Patients with a high to very high SCORE risk showed a significantly higher incidence rate of AOEs (74.3% vs 15.2%, P < 0.001). Patients aged ≥60 years showed a significantly higher incidence rate of AOEs (51.5% vs 16.9%, P = 0.008). In multivariate analysis, no association was found between AOEs and positive history of CV disease, age, dose of ponatinib, previous exposure to nilotinib, and comorbidities. Only the SCORE risk was confirmed as a significant predictive factor (P = 0.01; HR = 10.9; 95% C.I. = 1.7-67.8). Patients aged ≥60 years who were treated with aspirin had a lower incidence rate of AOEs (33.3% vs 61.8%). Among the 14 reported AOEs, 78.6% of them showed grade 3 to 4 toxicity. This real-life study confirmed the increased incidence of AOEs in CML patients treated with ponatinib, with high to very high SCORE risk. We suggest that patients aged ≥60 years who were treated with ponatinib should undergo prophylaxis with 100 mg/day of aspirin. Our findings emphasize personalized prevention strategies based on CV risk factors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hon.2606DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6766852PMC
August 2019

Observational study of chronic myeloid leukemia Italian patients who discontinued tyrosine kinase inhibitors in clinical practice.

Haematologica 2019 08 28;104(8):1589-1596. Epub 2019 Feb 28.

Chair and Hematology Section, Ferrarotto Hospital, Catania.

It is judged safe to discontinue treatment with tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI) for chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) in experimental trials on treatment-free remission (TFR). We collected a total of 293 Italian patients with chronic phase CML who discontinued TKI in deep molecular response. Seventy-two percent of patients were on treatment with imatinib, and 28% with second generation TKI at the time of discontinuation. Median duration of treatment with the last TKI was 77 months [Interquartile Range (IQR) 54;111], median duration of deep molecular response was 46 months (IQR 31;74). Duration of treatment with TKI and duration of deep molecular response were shorter with second generation TKI than with imatinib (<0.001). Eighty-eight percent of patients discontinued as per clinical practice, and reasons for stopping treatment were: toxicity (20%), pregnancy (6%), and shared decision between treating physician and patient (62%). After a median follow up of 34 months (range, 12-161) overall estimated TFR was 62% (95%CI: 56;68). At 12 months, TFR was 68% (95%CI: 62;74) for imatinib, 73% (95%CI: 64;83) for second generation TKI. Overall median time to restart treatment was six months (IQR 4;11). No progressions occurred. Although our study has the limitation of a retrospective study, our experience within the Italian population confirms that discontinuation of imatinib and second generation TKI is feasible and safe in clinical practice.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3324/haematol.2018.205054DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6669161PMC
August 2019

Flow Cytometry Assessment of CD26 Leukemic Stem Cells in Peripheral Blood: A Simple and Rapid New Diagnostic Tool for Chronic Myeloid Leukemia.

Cytometry B Clin Cytom 2019 07 3;96(4):294-299. Epub 2019 Feb 3.

Hematology Unit, Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria Senese, Siena, Italy.

Background: Recent investigations in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) have focused on the identification and characterization of leukemic stem cells (LSCs). These cells reside within the CD34 /CD38 /Lin fraction and score positive for CD26 (dipeptidylpeptidase IV) a marker, expressed in both bone marrow (BM) and peripheral blood (PB) samples, that discriminates CML cells from normal hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) or from LSCs of other myeloid neoplasms. CD26 evaluation could be a useful tool to improve the identification of CML LCSs by using flow-cytometry assay.

Methods: CD26 LSCs have been isolated from EDTA PB and BM samples of patients with leucocytosis suspected for CML. Analysis of LSCs CML has been performed by using custom-made lyophilized pre-titrated antibody mixture test and control tube and a CD45 /CD34 /CD38 /CD26 panel as a strict flow cytometric gating strategy.

Results: The expression of CD26 on CD34 /CD38 population was detectable in 211/211 PB and 84/84 BM samples of subsequently confirmed BCR-ABL CP-CML patients. None of the 32 samples suspicious for CML but scoring negative for circulating CD26 LSCs were diagnosed as CML after conventional cytogenetic and molecular testing. To validate our results, we checked for PB CD26 LSCs in patients affected by other hematological disorders and they all scored negative for CD26 expression.

Conclusions: We propose flow cytometry evaluation of CD26 expression on PB CD34 /CD38 population as a new rapid, reproducible, and powerful diagnostic tool for the diagnosis of CML. © 2019 The Authors. Cytometry Part B: Clinical Cytometry published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of International Clinical Cytometry Society.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cyto.b.21764DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6767040PMC
July 2019

Residual Peripheral Blood CD26 Leukemic Stem Cells in Chronic Myeloid Leukemia Patients During TKI Therapy and During Treatment-Free Remission.

Front Oncol 2018 30;8:194. Epub 2018 May 30.

Hematology Unit, Ospedale Oncologico A. Businco, Cagliari, Italy.

Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) patients in sustained "deep molecular response" may stop TKI treatment without disease recurrence; however, half of them lose molecular response shortly after TKI withdrawing. Well-defined eligibility criteria to predict a safe discontinuation up-front are still missing. Relapse is probably due to residual quiescent TKI-resistant leukemic stem cells (LSCs) supposedly transcriptionally low/silent and not easily detectable by BCR-ABL1 qRT-PCR. Bone marrow Ph+ CML CD34/CD38 LSCs were found to specifically co-express CD26 (dipeptidylpeptidase-IV). We explored feasibility of detecting and quantifying CD26 LSCs by flow cytometry in peripheral blood (PB). Over 400 CML patients (at diagnosis and during/after therapy) entered this cross-sectional study in which CD26 expression was evaluated by a standardized multiparametric flow cytometry analysis on PB CD45/CD34/CD38 stem cell population. All 120 CP-CML patients at diagnosis showed measurable PB CD26 LSCs (median 19.20/μL, range 0.27-698.6). PB CD26 LSCs were also detectable in 169/236 (71.6%) CP-CML patients in first-line TKI treatment (median 0.014 cells/μL; range 0.0012-0.66) and in 74/112 (66%), additional patients studied on treatment-free remission (TFR) (median 0.015/μL; range 0.006-0.76). Notably, no correlation between BCR-ABL/ABL ratio and number of residual LSCs was found both in patients on or off TKIs. This is the first evidence that "circulating" CML LSCs persist in the majority of CML patients in molecular response while on TKI treatment and even after TKI discontinuation. Prospective studies evaluating the dynamics of PB CD26 LSCs during TKI treatment and the role of a "stem cell response" threshold to achieve and maintain TFR are ongoing.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fonc.2018.00194DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5988870PMC
May 2018

Life for patients with myelofibrosis: the physical, emotional and financial impact, collected using narrative medicine-Results from the Italian 'Back to Life' project.

Qual Life Res 2018 06 8;27(6):1545-1554. Epub 2018 Mar 8.

Hematology, Federico II University, Napoli, Italy.

Purpose: Myelofibrosis (MF) is a chronic myeloproliferative neoplasm characterised by an aggressive clinical course, with disabling symptoms and reduced survival. Patients experience a severely impaired quality of life and their families face the upheaval of daily routines and high disease-related financial costs. The aim of this study was to investigate the perceptions of Italian patients and their caregivers about living with MF and the burden of illness associated with MF.

Methods: A quali-quantitative questionnaire and a prompted written narrative survey were administered to patients affected by primary or post-essential thrombocythemia/post-polycythaemia vera MF and their primary caregiver in 35 Italian haematological centres.

Results: In total, 287 questionnaires were returned by patients and 98 by caregivers, with 215 and 62, respectively, including the narrative. At the time of diagnosis, the most commonly expressed emotional states of patients were fear, distress and anger, confirming the difficulty of this phase. A high level of emotional distress was also reported by caregivers. Along the pathway of care, the ability to cope with the disease differed according to the quality of care received. The mean cost to each patient attributable to MF was estimated as €12,466 per year, with an estimated average annual cost of loss of income of €7774 per patient and €4692 per caregiver.

Conclusions: Better understanding of the personal life of MF patients and their families could improve the relationships between health workers and patients, resulting in better focused healthcare pathways and more effective financial support to maintain patients in their social roles.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11136-018-1827-2DOI Listing
June 2018