Department of Hematology-Oncology, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee 38105-2794, USA.
Background: Life-threatening pulmonary complications that coincide with cell lysis during early chemotherapy and that mimic systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) have been reported in patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
Methods: We reviewed the records of patients with de novo AML, excluding M3 and Down syndrome, treated at our institution between 1991 and 2002 to determine the prevalence of severe SIRS with grade 3/4 pulmonary complications and to identify AML subtypes associated with severe SIRS. To examine the role of cell lysis, we compared leukocyte reduction in AML subtypes affected by severe SIRS with that in unaffected subtypes.
Results: Of 155 patients, 5 (3 with M4eo and 2 with M5) experienced severe pulmonary complications attributed to tumor lysis, met the criteria for severe SIRS, and showed no clear evidence of infection. Four required pressor support for severe hypotension. Severe SIRS was significantly more common in myelomonocytic or monocytic AML (M4/M4eo/M5) than in other subtypes (P = 0.010) and significantly more common in M4eo than in M4/M5 (P = 0.008). Among 112 cases for which information was available, leukocyte reduction was significantly greater in patients with M4/M4eo/M5 than among others during the first 4 days of chemotherapy (P = 0.015). Leukocyte reduction was significantly more rapid among patients who had severe SIRS than among others (P = 0.008).
Conclusions: Patients with M4/M4eo/M5 AML, especially M4eo, experience life-threatening cardiopulmonary complications of tumor lysis that meet the criteria for severe SIRS. This observation may reflect more rapid cell reduction and the unique biology of this subtype.