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Medline ® Abstract for Reference 149

of 'Infusion reactions to systemic chemotherapy'

Hypersensitivity reactions to L-asparaginase do not impact on the remission duration of adults with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Larson RA, Fretzin MH, Dodge RK, Schiffer CA
Leukemia. 1998;12(5):660.
Among its multiple toxic effects, L-asparaginase induces allergic reactions that may reduce its biological effect. The impact of hypersensitivity reactions on the duration of leukemia-free survival (LFS) was assessed in adults with newly diagnosed acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) receiving intensive multi-agent chemotherapy. In CALGB study 8811 (Blood 1995; 85: 2025-2037), 197 adults were scheduled to receive 14 doses of Escherichia coil L-asparaginase (6000 U/m2 SC) during 7 of the first 12 weeks of chemotherapy. No further L-asparaginase was given. Chemotherapy was given for 24 months. The median follow-up time has been 5.7 years. Of the 141 patients who remained on study after 12 weeks, 82 (58%) had received all 14 planned doses; 38 (27%) had 12-13 L-asparaginase doses documented in their treatment record; 21 (15%) patients had received<or =11 doses due to a variety of toxic effects. The mean number of doses received prior to experiencing any hypersensitivity reaction was seven (range 1-11). Seven patients had mild hypersensitivity reactions, but all seven eventually received 12-14 doses of E. coil L-asparaginase. Twenty-one other patients had severe hypersensitivity reactions that required discontinuation of E. coil L-asparaginase; 20 of these patients were switched to Erwinia L-asparaginase to complete their treatment. Ultimately, 12 of these 20 patients received 14 doses of L-asparaginase in total, and six received 12-13 doses. Thus, only three of the 21 patients who had severe hypersensitivity reactions received<or =11 total L-asparaginase doses. Other L-asparaginase-related complications included pancreatitis (15 patients), hypofibrinogenemia<100mg/dl (29 patients), and deep venous thrombosis or pulmonary embolism (eight patients); some of these patients had L-asparaginase discontinued after these complications. The estimates for LFS at 3 years were 55% (95% confidence interval, 44-65%) for the patients who received all 14 L-asparaginase doses (median LFS, 5.1 years), 47% (95% CI, 33-62%) for those who received 12-13 doses, and 48% (95% CI, 29-67%) for those who received<or =11 doses. There were no significant differences between these three groups in the length of LFS (P=0.68). LFS did not correlate with a history of severe hypersensitivity reaction (P=0.67). In general, E. coil L-asparaginase was well tolerated in these adult patients, and most patients received all of the planned therapy. Patients who had mild L-asparaginase hypersensitivity reactions and patients who switched to Erwinia L-asparaginase because of more severe allergic reactions did not have significantly shorter LFS than the remaining adults treated on this ALL protocol. The possibility that E. coli L-asparaginase is inactivated or destroyed in those individuals who have become hypersensitive to it becomes less important when allergic patients are secondarily treated with Erwinia L-asparaginase.
University of Chicago, IL, USA.