Myeloablative conditioning for allo-HSCT in pediatric ALL: FTBI or chemotherapy?-A multicenter EBMT-PDWP study
Bone marrow transplantation. 2020
Although most children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) receive fractionated total body irradiation (FTBI) as myeloablative conditioning (MAC) for allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-HSCT), it is an important matter of debate if chemotherapy can effectively replace FTBI. To compare outcomes after FTBI versus chemotherapy-based conditioning (CC), we performed a retrospective EBMT registry study. Children aged 2-18 years after MAC for first allo-HSCT of bone marrow (BM) or peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC) from matched-related (MRD) or unrelated donors (UD) in first (CR1) or second remission (CR2) between 2000 and 2012 were included. Propensity score weighting was used to control pretreatment imbalances of the observed variables. 3.054 patients were analyzed. CR1 (1.498): median follow-up (FU) after FTBI (1.285) and CC (213) was 6.8 and 6.1 years. Survivals were not significantly different. CR2 (1.556): median FU after FTBI (1.345) and CC (211) was 6.2 years. Outcomes after FTBI were superior as compared with CC with regard to overall survival (OS), leukemia-free survival (LFS), relapse incidence (RI), and nonrelapse mortality (NRM). However, we must emphasize the preliminary character of the results of this retrospective "real-world-practice" study. These findings will be prospectively assessed in the ALL SCTped 2012 FORUM trial.
Total Body Irradiation or Chemotherapy Conditioning in Childhood ALL: A Multinational, Randomized, Noninferiority Phase III Study
Journal of clinical oncology : official journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. 2020;:Jco2002529
PURPOSE Total body irradiation (TBI) before allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) in pediatric patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is efficacious, but long-term side effects are concerning. We investigated whether preparative combination chemotherapy could replace TBI in such patients. PATIENTS AND METHODS FORUM is a randomized, controlled, open-label, international, multicenter, phase III, noninferiority study. Patients = 18 years at diagnosis, 4-21 years at HSCT, in complete remission pre-HSCT, and with an HLA-compatible related or unrelated donor were randomly assigned to myeloablative conditioning with fractionated 12 Gy TBI and etoposide versus fludarabine, thiotepa, and either busulfan or treosulfan. The noninferiority margin was 8%. With 1,000 patients randomly assigned in 5 years, 2-year minimum follow-up, and one-sided alpha of 5%, 80% power was calculated. A futility stopping rule would halt random assignment if chemoconditioning was significantly inferior to TBI (EudraCT: 2012-003032-22; ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT01949129). RESULTS Between April 2013 and December 2018, 543 patients were screened, 417 were randomly assigned, 212 received TBI, and 201 received chemoconditioning. The stopping rule was applied on March 31, 2019. The median follow-up was 2.1 years. In the intention-to-treat population, 2-year overall survival (OS) was significantly higher following TBI (0.91; 95% CI, 0.86 to 0.95; P < .0001) versus chemoconditioning (0.75; 95% CI, 0.67 to 0.81). Two-year cumulative incidence of relapse and treatment-related mortality were 0.12 (95% CI, 0.08 to 0.17; P < .0001) and 0.02 (95% CI, < 0.01 to 0.05; P = .0269) following TBI and 0.33 (95% CI, 0.25 to 0.40) and 0.09 (95% CI, 0.05 to 0.14) following chemoconditioning, respectively. CONCLUSION Improved OS and lower relapse risk were observed following TBI plus etoposide compared with chemoconditioning. We therefore recommend TBI plus etoposide for patients > 4 years old with high-risk ALL undergoing allogeneic HSCT.
What is known?
Allogeneic haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) provides a potential curative treatment option for paediatric patients with high risk acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL). Pre-transplant conditioning regimes with total body irradiation (TBI) have resulted in encouraging overall and relapse-free survival but may cause serious long-term side effects. As a result, several studies have investigated TBI-free regimes. A large meta-analysis (1) which included seven randomised controlled trials comparing TBI-based with chemoconditioning regimes demonstrated significantly lower treatment related mortality (TRM) but no overall survival (OS) advantage with TBI-based regimes. A further small randomised study (2) found significantly higher event-free survival (EFS) with TBI-based regimes in patients with unrelated donors, but a non-significant difference only in patients with matched sibling donors. Concerns about late effects of TBI on growth, cognitive function and secondary malignancy however remain. A single centre retrospective study (3) in paediatric ALL concluded that triosulphan based regimes were safe and efficacious while a similar review (4) in adult patients suggested that busulphan and clofarabine could provide an alternative to TBI. This paper reports on the FORUM study. It compares TBI with chemoconditioning regimes to investigate whether optimal chemoconditioning regimens could replace TBI in paediatric patients with high-risk ALL.
What did this paper set out to examine?
This is the largest randomised, controlled, open-label, international, multicentre, phase III trial comparing TBI plus etoposide with chemoconditioning (fludarabine, thiotepa and busulfan or triosulfan) in paediatric ALL to date. It investigates whether chemoconditioning is non-inferior to TBI-based regimes with the primary endpoint of OS. It is also the first study to directly and prospectively compare these regimes in terms of disease-free survival and short- and long-term adverse events. The study aimed to recruit 1000 patients.
What did they show?
Improved OS and lower relapse risk were observed following TBI plus etoposide compared with chemoconditioning. Patients ≤18 years old at diagnosis and aged 4-21 at HSCT with high risk ALL in complete morphological remission with HLA compatible related or unrelated donor were included in the study. Patients were randomised 1:1 to 12Gy TBI with etoposide versus fludarabine, thiotepa and busulfan or triosulphan conditioning. Patients were well matched for baseline characteristics and demographics. Randomisation was stopped early due significant inferiority of chemoconditioning compared with TBI-based regime.
Following randomisation of 417 patients, a futility stopping rule was applied because patients receiving chemoconditioning with fludarabine, thiotepa, and busulfan or treosulfan had inferior OS to those receiving TBI plus etoposide. Two-year OS was 0.91 (95% CI, P <.0001) following TBI versus 0.75 (95% CI) following chemoconditioning. Median follow up was 2.1 years. Relapse was the commonest reason for treatment failure and out of 67 patients who relapsed, there was no difference in OS between conditioning regimes. There was no difference in serious adverse events or GvHD rates between the groups.
What are the implications for practice and for future work?
While TBI is associated with potentially serious long-term side effects, this study supports growing evidence demonstrating improved outcomes for patients undergoing TBI-based conditioning. Here patients receiving TBI-based conditioning had a significantly lower risk of relapse and TRM than those given chemoconditioning.
Of note, TRM in this trial was low compared to previously reported studies. FOCUS reported a 2-year OS and EFS rate of 0.91 and 0.91 respectively, which is the lowest documented TRM in HSCT for high-risk paediatric ALL to date. Additionally, other risk factors thought to impact on outcomes (e.g. leukaemia phenotype, MRD pre-transplant, donor type, etc) were not found to be significant in FOCUS. Only remission status (CR1 vs CR2) and conditioning regime influenced OS and EFS. This may be in part explained by the strong attempts within this study to reduce MRD prior to HSCT in all patients.
This was a noninferiority study which required a sample size of 1000 patients with 2-year minimum follow-up to make analysis of primary outcomes feasible. As the majority of relapses in paediatric ALL occur in the first 24 months, it is unlikely that longer follow up would result in dramatic changes to outcomes.
Non-randomised recruitment in FORUM to assess long-term side effects of TBI, such as secondary malignancy, in FORUM is ongoing. However, no difference in adverse events or incidence of GvHD was found between study groups. The study reports a composite end point of 2-year GVHD-free, relapse-free survival of 72% (95% CI) following TBI plus etoposide and 51% (95% CI, p= .0003) following chemoconditioning which might be a benchmark for future investigations.
Patients diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia at or before 18 years of age, who underwent HSCT aged 4-21 years (n=413)
TBI conditioning (n=212)
Chemoconditioning: fludarabine, thiotepa, and either busulfan or treosulfan (n=201)
The median follow-up was 2.1 years. In the intention-to-treat population, 2-year overall survival (OS) was significantly higher following TBI (0.91) versus chemoconditioning (0.75). Two-year cumulative incidence of relapse and treatment-related mortality were 0.12 and 0.02 following TBI and 0.33 and 0.09 following chemoconditioning, respectively.
Epigenetic age is a cell-intrinsic property in transplanted human hematopoietic cells
Aging cell. 2019;:e12897
The age of tissues and cells can be accurately estimated by DNA methylation analysis. The multitissue DNA methylation (DNAm) age predictor combines the DNAm levels of 353 CpG dinucleotides to arrive at an age estimate referred to as DNAm age. Recent studies based on short-term observations showed that the DNAm age of reconstituted blood following allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) reflects the age of the donor. However, it is not known whether the DNAm age of donor blood remains independent of the recipient's age over the long term. Importantly, long-term studies including child recipients have the potential to clearly reveal whether DNAm age is cell-intrinsic or whether it is modulated by extracellular cues in vivo. Here, we address this question by analyzing blood methylation data from HSCT donor and recipient pairs who greatly differed in chronological age (age differences between 1 and 49 years). We found that the DNAm age of the reconstituted blood was not influenced by the recipient's age, even 17 years after HSCT, in individuals without relapse of their hematologic disorder. However, the DNAm age of recipients with relapse of leukemia was unstable. These data are consistent with our previous findings concerning the abnormal DNAm age of cancer cells, and it can potentially be exploited to monitor the health of HSCT recipients. Our data demonstrate that transplanted human hematopoietic stem cells have an intrinsic DNAm age that is unaffected by the environment in a recipient of a different age.
Children and Adults with Refractory Acute Graft-versus-Host Disease Respond to Treatment with the Mesenchymal Stromal Cell Preparation "MSC-FFM"-Outcome Report of 92 Patients
(1) Background: Refractory acute graft-versus-host disease (R-aGvHD) remains a leading cause of death after allogeneic stem cell transplantation. Survival rates of 15% after four years are currently achieved; deaths are only in part due to aGvHD itself, but mostly due to adverse effects of R-aGvHD treatment with immunosuppressive agents as these predispose patients to opportunistic infections and loss of graft-versus-leukemia surveillance resulting in relapse. Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) from different tissues and those generated by various protocols have been proposed as a remedy for R-aGvHD but the enthusiasm raised by initial reports has not been ubiquitously reproduced. (2) Methods: We previously reported on a unique MSC product, which was generated from pooled bone marrow mononuclear cells of multiple third-party donors. The products showed dose-to-dose equipotency and greater immunosuppressive capacity than individually expanded MSCs from the same donors. This product, MSC-FFM, has entered clinical routine in Germany where it is licensed with a national hospital exemption authorization. We previously reported satisfying initial clinical outcomes, which we are now updating. The data were collected in our post-approval pharmacovigilance program, i.e., this is not a clinical study and the data is high-level and non-monitored. (3) Results: Follow-up for 92 recipients of MSC-FFM was reported, 88 with GvHD ≥ degrees III, one-third only steroid-refractory and two-thirds therapy resistant (refractory to steroids plus ≥2 additional lines of treatment). A median of three doses of MSC-FFM was administered without apparent toxicity. Overall response rates were 82% and 81% at the first and last evaluation, respectively. At six months, the estimated overall survival was 64%, while the cumulative incidence of death from underlying disease was 3%. (4) Conclusions: MSC-FFM promises to be a safe and efficient treatment for severe R-aGvHD.
Low burden of minimal residual disease prior to transplantation in children with very high risk acute lymphoblastic leukaemia: The NOPHO ALL2008 experience
British journal of haematology. 2019
The population-based Nordic/Baltic acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) Nordic Society for Paediatric Haematology and Oncology (NOPHO) ALL2008 protocol combined minimal residual disease (MRD)-driven treatment stratification with very intense first line chemotherapy for patients with high risk ALL. Patients with MRD ≥5% at end of induction or ≥10(-3) at end of consolidation or following two high risk blocks were eligible for haematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) in first remission. After at least three high risk blocks a total of 71 children received HCT, of which 46 had MRD ≥5% at end of induction. Ten patients stratified to HCT were not transplanted; 12 received HCT without protocol indication. Among 69 patients with evaluable pre-HCT MRD results, 22 were MRD-positive, one with MRD ≥10(-3) . After a median follow-up of 5.5 years, the cumulative incidence of relapse was 23.5% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 10.5-47.7) for MRD-positive versus 5.1% (95% CI: 1.3-19.2), P = 0.02) for MRD-negative patients. MRD was the only variable significantly associated with relapse (hazard ratio 9.1, 95% CI: 1.6-51.0, P = 0.012). Non-relapse mortality did not differ between the two groups, resulting in disease-free survival of 85.6% (95% CI: 75.4-97.2) and 67.4% (95% CI: 50.2-90.5), respectively. In conclusion, NOPHO block treatment efficiently reduced residual leukaemia which, combined with modern transplant procedures, provided high survival rates, also among pre-HCT MRD-positive patients.
Outcome of hematopoietic cell transplantation for DNA double-strand break repair disorders
Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology. 2018;141(1):322-328.e10
BACKGROUND Rare DNA breakage repair disorders predispose to infection and lymphoreticular malignancies. Hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) is curative, but coadministered chemotherapy or radiotherapy is damaging because of systemic radiosensitivity. We collected HCT outcome data for Nijmegen breakage syndrome, DNA ligase IV deficiency, Cernunnos-XRCC4-like factor (Cernunnos-XLF) deficiency, and ataxia-telangiectasia (AT). METHODS Data from 38 centers worldwide, including indication, donor, conditioning regimen, graft-versus-host disease, and outcome, were analyzed. Conditioning was classified as myeloablative conditioning (MAC) if it contained radiotherapy or alkylators and reduced-intensity conditioning (RIC) if no alkylators and/or 150 mg/m2 fludarabine or less and 40 mg/kg cyclophosphamide or less were used. RESULTS Fifty-five new, 14 updated, and 18 previously published patients were analyzed. Median age at HCT was 48 months (range, 1.5-552 months). Twenty-nine patients underwent transplantation for infection, 21 had malignancy, 13 had bone marrow failure, 13 received pre-emptive transplantation, 5 had multiple indications, and 6 had no information. Twenty-two received MAC, 59 received RIC, and 4 were infused; information was unavailable for 2 patients. Seventy-three of 77 patients with DNA ligase IV deficiency, Cernunnos-XLF deficiency, or Nijmegen breakage syndrome received conditioning. Survival was 53 (69%) of 77 and was worse for those receiving MAC than for those receiving RIC (P = .006). Most deaths occurred early after transplantation, suggesting poor tolerance of conditioning. Survival in patients with AT was 25%. Forty-one (49%) of 83 patients experienced acute GvHD, which was less frequent in those receiving RIC compared with those receiving MAC (26/56 [46%] vs 12/21 [57%], P = .45). Median follow-up was 35 months (range, 2-168 months). No secondary malignancies were reported during 15 years of follow-up. Growth and developmental delay remained after HCT; immune-mediated complications resolved. CONCLUSION RIC HCT resolves DNA repair disorder-associated immunodeficiency. Long-term follow-up is required for secondary malignancy surveillance. Routine HCT for AT is not recommended.Copyright © 2017 American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Effective treatment of steroid and therapy-refractory acute graft-versus-host disease with a novel mesenchymal stromal cell product (MSC-FFM)
Bone marrow transplantation. 2018
The inability to generate mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) of consistent potency likely is responsible for inconsistent clinical outcomes of patients with aGvHD receiving MSC products. We developed a novel MSC manufacturing protocol characterized by high in vitro potency and near-identity of individual doses, referred to as "MSC-Frankfurt am Main (MSC-FFM)". Herein, we report outcomes of the 69 patients who have received MSC-FFM. These were 51 children and 18 adults with refractory aGvHD grade II (4%), III (36%) or IV (59%). Patients were refractory either to frontline therapy (steroids) (29%) or to steroids and 1-5 additional lines of immunosuppressants (71%) were given infusions in four weekly intervals. The day 28 overall response rate was 83%; at the last follow-up, 61% and 25% of patients were in complete or partial remission. The median follow-up was 8.1 months. Six-month estimate for cumulative incidence of non-relapse mortality was 27% (range, 16-38); leukemia relapse mortality was 2% (range, 0-5). This was associated with a superior six-month overall survival (OS) probability rate of 71% (range, 61-83), compared to the outcome of patients not treated with MSC-FFM. This novel product was effective in children and adults, suggesting that MSC-FFM represents a promising therapy for steroid refractory aGvHD.