Publications by authors named "Nicola Sgherza"

44 Publications

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

What Is New in the Treatment of Smoldering Multiple Myeloma?

J Clin Med 2021 Jan 22;10(3). Epub 2021 Jan 22.

Unit of Hematology and Stem Cell Transplantation, AOUC Policlinico, 70124 Bari, Italy.

Smoldering multiple myeloma (SMM), an asymptomatic plasma cell neoplasm, is currently diagnosed according to the updated IMWG criteria, which reflect an intermediate tumor mass between monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) and active MM. However, SMM is a heterogeneous entity and individual case may go from an "MGUS-like" behavior to "early MM" with rapid transformation into symptomatic disease. This wide range of clinical outcomes poses challenges for prognostication and management of individual patients. However, initial studies showed a benefit in terms of progression or even survival for early treatment of high-risk SMM patients. While outside of clinical trials the conventional approach to SMM generally remains that of close observation, these studies raised the question of whether early treatment should be offered in high-risk patients, prompting evaluation of several different therapeutic approaches with different goals. While delay of progression to MM with a non-toxic treatment is clearly achievable by early treatment, a convincing survival benefit still needs to be proven by independent studies. Furthermore, if SMM is to be considered less biologically complex than MM, early treatment may offer the chance of cure that is currently not within reach of any active MM treatment. In this paper, we present updated results of completed or ongoing clinical trials in SMM treatment, highlighting areas of uncertainty and critical issues that will need to be addressed in the near future before the "watch and wait" paradigm in SMM is abandoned in favor of early treatment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/jcm10030421DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7865294PMC
January 2021

A Retrospective Analysis about Frequency of Monitoring in Italian Chronic Myeloid Leukemia Patients after Discontinuation.

J Clin Med 2020 Nov 17;9(11). Epub 2020 Nov 17.

Hematology Unit, Fondazione Policlinico Universitario Gemelli IRCCS, 00168 Rome, Italy.

Successful discontinuation of tyrosine kinase inhibitors has been achieved in patients with chronic-phase chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). Careful molecular monitoring after discontinuation warrants safe and prompt resumption of therapy. We retrospectively evaluated how molecular monitoring has been conducted in Italy in a cohort of patients who discontinued tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) treatment per clinical practice. The outcome of these patients has recently been reported-281 chronic-phase CML patients were included in this subanalysis. Median follow-up since discontinuation was 2 years. Overall, 2203 analyses were performed, 17.9% in the first three months and 38.4% in the first six months. Eighty-six patients lost major molecular response (MMR) in a mean time of 5.7 months-65 pts (75.6%) during the first six months. We evaluated the number of patients who would experience a delay in diagnosis of MMR loss if a three-month monitoring schedule was adopted. In the first 6 months, 19 pts (29.2%) would have a one-month delay, 26 (40%) a 2-month delay. Very few patients would experience a delay in the following months. A less intense frequency of monitoring, particularly after the first 6 months off treatment, would not have affected the success of treatment-free remission (TFR) nor put patients at risk of progression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/jcm9113692DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7698481PMC
November 2020

"Hemolysis, or not Hemolysis, that is the Question". Use of Hydroxychloroquine in a Patient with COVID-19 Infection and G6PD Deficiency.

Mediterr J Hematol Infect Dis 2020 1;12(1):e2020076. Epub 2020 Nov 1.

Chair of Hematology and Unit of Hematology and Stem Cell Transplantation, "Aldo Moro" University School of Medicine, Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria Consorziale Policlinico, Bari, Italy.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.4084/MJHID.2020.076DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7643778PMC
November 2020

Do myeloproliferative neoplasms and multiple myeloma share the same genetic susceptibility loci?

Int J Cancer 2021 Apr 27;148(7):1616-1624. Epub 2020 Oct 27.

Department of Biology, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy.

Myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs) are a group of diseases that cause myeloid hematopoietic cells to overproliferate. Epidemiological and familial studies suggest that genetic factors contribute to the risk of developing MPN, but the genetic susceptibility of MPN is still not well known. Indeed, only few loci are known to have a clear role in the predisposition to this disease. Some studies reported a diagnosis of MPNs and multiple myeloma (MM) in the same patients, but the biological causes are still unclear. We tested the hypothesis that the two diseases share at least partly the same genetic risk loci. In the context of a European multicenter study with 460 cases and 880 controls, we analyzed the effect of the known MM risk loci, individually and in a polygenic risk score (PRS). The most significant result was obtained among patients with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) for PS0RS1C1-rs2285803, which showed to be associated with an increased risk (OR = 3.28, 95% CI 1.79-6.02, P = .00012, P = .00276 when taking into account multiple testing). Additionally, the PRS showed an association with MPN risk when comparing the last with the first quartile of the PRS (OR = 2.39, 95% CI 1.64-3.48, P = 5.98 × 10 ). In conclusion, our results suggest a potential common genetic background between MPN and MM, which needs to be further investigated.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ijc.33337DOI Listing
April 2021

Genetic polymorphisms associated with telomere length and risk of developing myeloproliferative neoplasms.

Blood Cancer J 2020 09 1;10(8):89. Epub 2020 Sep 1.

Department of Biology, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy.

Telomere length measured in leukocyte (LTL) has been found to be associated with the risk of developing several cancer types, including myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs). LTL is genetically determined by, at least, 11 SNPs previously shown to influence LTL. Their combination in a score has been used as a genetic instrument to measure LTL and evaluate the causative association between LTL and the risk of several cancer types. We tested, for the first time, the "teloscore" in 480 MPN patients and 909 healthy controls in a European multi-center case-control study. We found an increased risk to develop MPNs with longer genetically determined telomeres (OR = 1.82, 95% CI 1.24-2.68, P = 2.21 × 10, comparing the highest with the lowest quintile of the teloscore distribution). Analyzing the SNPs individually we confirm the association between TERT-rs2736100-C allele and increased risk of developing MPNs and we report a novel association of the OBFC1-rs9420907-C variant with higher MPN risk (OR= 1.43; 95% CI 1.15-1.77; P = 1.35 × 10). Consistently with the results obtained with the teloscore, both risk alleles are also associated with longer LTL. In conclusion, our results suggest that genetically determined longer telomeres could be a risk marker for MPN development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41408-020-00356-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7463014PMC
September 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

Erythropoietin treatment in chronic phase chronic myeloid leukemia patients treated with frontline imatinib who developed late anemia.

Eur J Haematol 2020 Sep 22;105(3):286-291. Epub 2020 May 22.

Department of Translational and Precision Medicine, University "La Sapienza" of Rome, Rome, Italy.

Background: Role of erythropoietin (EPO) in the treatment of late anemia in patients with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML) is still undefined.

Methods: Fifty CML patients treated at 14 institutions with frontline imatinib for at least 12 months and in stable complete cytogenetic response who developed a late chronic anemia treated with EPO were retrospectively evaluated.

Results: Median time from imatinib start to EPO treatment was 42.2 months [interquartile range (IQR) 20.8-91.9]. Median Hb value at EPO starting time was 9.9 g/dL (IQR 8.9-10.3): Eleven patients (22.0%) were transfusion dependent. Alpha-EPO (40 000 UI weekly) was employed in 37 patients, beta-EPO (30 000 UI weekly) in 9 patients, zeta-EPO (40 000 UI weekly) in 2 patients, and darbepoetin (150 mcg/weekly) in the remaining 2 patients. On the whole, 41 patients (82.0%) achieved an erythroid response, defined as a stable (>3 months) improvement >1.5 g/dL of Hb level, and 9 patients (18.0%) indeed resulted resistant. Among responding patients, 10 relapsed after a median time from EPO start of 20.7 months (IQR 10.8-63.7). No EPO-related toxicity was observed.

Conclusions: Results of EPO treatment for late chronic anemia during long-lasting imatinib therapy are encouraging, with a high rate of response.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ejh.13436DOI Listing
September 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

Who seeks finds. Gaucher's disease: a rare case of thrombocytopenia.

Int J Hematol 2020 Mar 13;111(3):327-328. Epub 2020 Jan 13.

Hematology Unit, "A. Perrino" Hospital, SS 7 per Mesagne, 72100, Brindisi, Italy.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12185-020-02824-xDOI Listing
March 2020

Life after ruxolitinib: Reasons for discontinuation, impact of disease phase, and outcomes in 218 patients with myelofibrosis.

Cancer 2020 03 20;126(6):1243-1252. Epub 2019 Dec 20.

Unit of Hematology and Clinical Immunology, University of Padua, Padua, Italy.

Background: After discontinuing ruxolitinib, the outcome of patients with myelofibrosis reportedly has been poor. The authors investigated whether disease characteristics before the receipt of ruxolitinib may predict drug discontinuation in patients with myelofibrosis and whether reasons for drug discontinuation, disease phase at discontinuation, and salvage therapies may influence the outcome.

Methods: A centralized electronic clinical database was created in 20 European hematology centers, including clinical and laboratory data for 524 patients who received ruxolitinib for myelofibrosis.

Results: At 3 years, 40.8% of patients had stopped ruxolitinib. Baseline predictors of drug discontinuation were: intermediate-2-risk/high-risk category (Dynamic International Prognostic Score System), a platelet count <100 ×10 per liter, transfusion dependency, and unfavorable karyotype. At last contact, 268 patients (51.1%) had discontinued therapy, and the median drug exposure was 17.5 months. Fifty patients (18.7%) died while taking ruxolitinib. The reasons for discontinuation in the remaining 218 patients were the lack (22.9%) or loss (11.9%) of a spleen response, ruxolitinib-related adverse events (27.5%), progression to blast phase (23.4%), ruxolitinib-unrelated adverse events (9.2%), and allogeneic transplantation during response (5.1%). The median survival after ruxolitinib was 13.2 months and was significantly better in the 167 patients who discontinued ruxolitinib in chronic phase (27.5 vs 3.9 months for those who discontinued in blast phase; P < .001). No survival differences were observed among patients who discontinued ruxolitinib in chronic phase because of lack of response, loss of response, or ruxolitinib-related adverse events. The use of investigational agents and/or ruxolitinib rechallenge were associated with improved outcome.

Conclusions: The survival of patients with myelofibrosis after discontinuation of ruxolitinib is poor, particularly for those who discontinue in blast phase. Salvage therapies can improve outcome, emphasizing the need for novel therapies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cncr.32664DOI Listing
March 2020

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

Impact of 2016 WHO diagnosis of early and overt primary myelofibrosis on presentation and outcome of 232 patients treated with ruxolitinib.

Hematol Oncol 2019 Oct 7;37(4):418-423. Epub 2019 Jun 7.

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

The 2016 WHO criteria identified early primary myelofibrosis (PMF) as an individual entity with milder clinical features and better outcome compared with overt PMF. Here, we compared early and overt PMF patients treated with ruxolitinib in terms of baseline clinical/laboratory characteristics, response, and toxicity to treatment. We observed that early-PMF patients achieve better and more stable spleen and symptoms responses, with significantly lower rates of hematological toxicities. No differences in overall and leukemia-free survival were detected between the two cohorts. The application of 2016 WHO criteria is crucial to identify those PMF patients who deserve a stricter monitoring during treatment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hon.2619DOI Listing
October 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

Differences in presenting features, outcome and prognostic models in patients with primary myelofibrosis and post-polycythemia vera and/or post-essential thrombocythemia myelofibrosis treated with ruxolitinib. New perspective of the MYSEC-PM in a large multicenter study.

Semin Hematol 2018 10 5;55(4):248-255. Epub 2018 Jun 5.

Unit of Hematology and Clinical Immunology, University of Padova, Padova, Italy.

Recently, the myelofibrosis secondary to PV and ET prognostic model (MYSEC-PM) was introduced to assess prognosis in myelofibrosis (MF) secondary to polycythemia vera and essential thrombocythemia (post-PV and post-ET MF), replacing the International Prognostic Scoring System (IPSS) and/or Dynamic IPSS (DIPSS) that was applied for primary MF (PMF). In a cohort of 421 ruxolitinib (RUX)-treated patients (post-PV and post-ET MF: 44.2%), we evaluated the following: (1) disease phenotype, responses, and toxicity to RUX; and (2) performance of the MYSEC-PM in post-PV or post-ET MF. While the IPSS failed to correctly stratify post-PV or post-ET MF patients at diagnosis, the MYSEC-PM identified 4 risk categories projected at significantly different survival probability (P < .001). Additionally, the MYSEC-PM maintained a prognostic value in post-PV and post-ET MF also when used over time, at RUX start. Notably, the MYSEC-PM reclassified 41.8% and 13.6% of patients into a lower and higher risk category, respectively. Finally, patients at intermediate-1 risk had significantly higher spleen responses and lower hematological toxicities compared to higher risk patients. Compared to PMF, post-PV and post-ET MF presented a more hyperproliferative disease, with higher leukocyte and/or platelet count and hemoglobin levels both at diagnosis and at RUX start. Despite comparable response rates, post-PV and post-ET MF had lower rate of RUX-induced anemia and thrombocytopenia at 3 and 6 months. The study validates MYSEC-PM in post-PV and post-ET MF prognostication. Post-PV or post-ET MF represents a separate entity compared to PMF in terms of clinical manifestations and toxicity to RUX.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1053/j.seminhematol.2018.05.013DOI Listing
October 2018

Impact of comorbidities and body mass index in patients with myelofibrosis treated with ruxolitinib.

Ann Hematol 2019 Apr 4;98(4):889-896. Epub 2018 Dec 4.

Institute of Hematology "L. and A. Seràgnoli", Sant'Orsola-Malpighi University Hospital, Bologna, Italy.

Comorbidities defined by the Charlson comorbidity index (CCI) and body mass index (BMI) are significantly associated with outcome in patients who receive continuous treatment with tyrosine kinase inhibitors. We evaluated the impact of CCI and BMI on responses, drug-related toxicities, and outcome in a cohort of 402 patients with myelofibrosis (MF) treated with ruxolitinib in 23 European Hematology Centers. Comorbidities were evaluable in all 402 patients. A higher (≥ 3) CCI did not correlate with a lower spleen reduction at any time (p = 0.68) or symptoms' response (p = 0.11), but influenced the onset of anemia during the first 3 months of treatment and later (p = 0.02 and p = 0.03, respectively) in patients without anemia baseline. BMI was evaluable in 380 patients and did not correlate with differences in spleen and symptoms response (p = 0.57 and p = 0.49, respectively). A higher CCI and a lower BMI correlated also with a reduced overall survival (p < 0.001 and p = 0.02, respectively). The achievement of a spleen response at 6 months could counterbalance the negative impact of comorbidities, while patients who were underweight when starting ruxolitinib and did not achieve a spleen response at 6 months were projected to the worse outcome. In MF patients treated with ruxolitinib, BMI and comorbidities did not influence the achievement of spleen/symptom responses, but they contributed to the early identification of patients who deserve a strict monitoring during treatment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00277-018-3569-1DOI Listing
April 2019

Ruxolitinib in elderly patients with myelofibrosis: impact of age and genotype. A multicentre study on 291 elderly patients.

Br J Haematol 2018 10 16;183(1):35-46. Epub 2018 Jul 16.

Unit of Haematology and Clinical Immunology, University of Padova, Padova, Italy.

Ruxolitinib is a JAK1/2 inhibitor that may control myelofibrosis (MF)-related splenomegaly and symptoms and can be prescribed regardless of age. While aging is known to correlate with worse prognosis, no specific analysis is available to confirm that ruxolitinib is suitable for use in older populations. A clinical database was created in 23 European Haematology Centres and retrospective data on 291 MF patients treated with ruxolitinib when aged ≥65 years were analysed in order to assess the impact of age and molecular genotype on responses, toxicities and survival. Additional mutations were evaluated by a next generation sequencing (NGS) approach in 69 patients with available peripheral blood samples at the start of ruxolitinib treatment. Compared to older (age 65-74 years) patients, elderly (≥75 years) showed comparable responses to ruxolitinib, but higher rates of drug-induced anaemia and thrombocytopenia and worse survival. Nonetheless, the ruxolitinib discontinuation rate was comparable in the two age groups. Number and types of molecular abnormalities were comparable across age groups. However, the presence of high molecular risk (HMR) mutations significantly affected survival, counterbalancing the effect of aging. Indeed, elderly patients with <2 HMR mutated genes had a comparable survival to older patients with ≥2 HMR mutations. Given that responses were not influenced by age, older age per se should not be a limitation for ruxolitinib administration. NGS analysis of HMR mutations also confirmed a strong predictive value in elderly patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bjh.15497DOI Listing
October 2018

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

A Comparison of the Conditioning Regimens BEAM and FEAM for Autologous Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation in Lymphoma: An Observational Study on 1038 Patients From Fondazione Italiana Linfomi.

Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 2018 09 29;24(9):1814-1822. Epub 2018 May 29.

Oncologia Medica 1, Istituto Oncologico Veneto IOV-IRCCS, Padova, Italy.

BEAM (carmustine [bis-chloroethylnitrosourea (BCNU)]-etoposide-cytarabine-melphalan) chemotherapy is the standard conditioning regimen for autologous stem cell transplantation (ASCT) in lymphomas. Owing to BCNU shortages, many centers switched to fotemustine-substituted BEAM (FEAM), lacking proof of equivalence. We conducted a retrospective cohort study in 18 Italian centers to compare the safety and efficacy of BEAM and FEAM regimens for ASCT in lymphomas performed from 2008 to 2015. We enrolled 1038 patients (BEAM = 607, FEAM = 431), of which 27% had Hodgkin lymphoma (HL), 14% indolent non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), and 59% aggressive NHL. Baseline characteristics including age, sex, stage, B-symptoms, extranodal involvement, previous treatments, response before ASCT, and overall conditioning intensity were well balanced between BEAM and FEAM; notable exceptions were median ASCT year (BEAM = 2011 versus FEAM = 2013, P < .001), Sorror score ≥3 (BEAM = 15% versus FEAM = 10%, P = .017), and radiotherapy use (BEAM = 18% versus FEAM = 10%, P < .001). FEAM conditioning resulted in higher rates of gastrointestinal and infectious toxicities, including severe oral mucositis grade ≥3 (BEAM = 31% versus FEAM = 44%, P < .001), and sepsis from Gram-negative bacteria (mean isolates/patient: BEAM = .1 versus FEAM = .19, P < .001). Response status at day 100 post-ASCT (overall response: BEAM = 91% versus FEAM = 88%, P = .42), 2-year overall survival (83.9%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 81.5% to 86.1%) and progression-free survival (70.3%; 95% CI, 67.4% to 73.1%) were not different in the two groups. Mortality from infection was higher in the FEAM group (subhazard ratio, 1.99; 95% CI, 1.02 to 3.88; P = .04). BEAM and FEAM do not appear different in terms of survival and disease control. However, due to concerns of higher toxicity, fotemustine substitution in BEAM does not seem justified, if not for easier supply.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbmt.2018.05.018DOI Listing
September 2018

Ponatinib as second-line treatment in chronic phase chronic myeloid leukemia patients in real-life practice.

Ann Hematol 2018 Sep 19;97(9):1577-1580. Epub 2018 Apr 19.

Hematology, Department of Cellular Biotechnologies and Hematology, Policlinico Umberto 1, "Sapienza" University, Via Benevento 6, 00161, Rome, Italy.

Scarce information is available on the use of ponatinib as second-line treatment in chronic phase chronic myeloid leukemia (CP-CML) patients resistant and/or intolerant to prior tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) therapy. We collected data from 29 CML patients, with a median age of 54 years (range 32-72). Eleven patients had received dasatinib, 15 patients received nilotinib, and 3 patients received imatinib as first-line treatment. Forty-five percent of patients started ponatinib for secondary resistance, 38% for primary resistance, 7% for severe intolerance associated to a molecular warning, 7% due to the presence of a T315I mutation, and 3% for severe intolerance. Ponatinib was started at a dose of 45 mg in 60% of patients, 30 mg in 38%, and 15 mg in 2% of patients. Overall, at a median follow-up of 12 months, 85% of treated patients improved the level of response as compared to baseline, with 10 patients achieving a deep molecular response (MR4-4.5). No thrombotic events were recorded. The dose was reduced during treatment in 2 patients due to intolerance and in 8 patients in order to reduce the cardiovascular risk. Ponatinib seems a valid second-line treatment option for chronic phase CML, in particular for patients who failed a front-line second-generation TKI due to BCR-ABL-independent mechanisms of resistance.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00277-018-3337-2DOI Listing
September 2018