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Medline ® Abstract for Reference 20

of 'Overview of neurologic complications of non-platinum cancer chemotherapy'

Unexpected acute neurologic toxicity in the treatment of children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Winick NJ, Bowman WP, Kamen BA, Roach ES, Rollins N, Jacaruso D, Buchanan GR
J Natl Cancer Inst. 1992;84(4):252.
BACKGROUND: Our current protocol for treatment of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) was designed to assess the efficacy of methotrexate (MTX) plus L-asparaginase and of etopisode (VP-16) plus cytarabine (ARA-C) during intensive consolidation and continuation therapies and to determine the feasibility of intensifying MTX therapy by the use of divided oral doses of MTX. The protocol was associated with unexpected acute neurotoxicity. There are few reports of such toxic effects during therapy for ALL.
PURPOSE: This report describes these toxic effects and outlines our successful approach to the problem.
METHODS: The standard four-drug induction regimen consisted of vincristine, L-asparaginase, daunorubicin, and prednisone. In consolidation therapy, oral MTX was given in divided doses (dMTX) of 25 mg/m2 every 6 hours four times daily in four weekly courses concomitant with weekly triple intrathecal therapy--MTX, ARA-C, and hydrocortisone--plus one dose of leucovorin 24 hours after triple intrathecal therapy. Consolidation treatment ended with three daily dosesof intravenous VP-16 and ARA-C. The first 16 months of continuation therapy included 6-week cycles of dMTX and L-asparaginase, both given every other week for 5 weeks, with 6-mercaptopurine nightly, and then two doses of VP-16 plus ARA-C and one dose of triple intrathecal therapy.
RESULTS: Twenty-five of the 138 patients evaluated had acute neurotoxicity. Ten of the first 72 experienced a seizure or episode of transient neurological deficit 9-11 days following the administration of intravenous ARA-C, VP-16, and triple intrathecal therapy. Despite discontinuation of intrathecal ARA-C, which eliminated simultaneous intravenous and intrathecal treatment with ARA-C, acute neurotoxicity was observed in six previously unaffected patients and six of 42 patients treated after the elimination of intrathecal ARA-C. Therefore, as a second amendment, oral leucovorin was given 24 and 36 hours after dMTX and intrathecal MTX in continuation therapy. No acute neurotoxicity has been seen in 24 patients subsequently entered in the study.
CONCLUSION: These findings suggest that folate replacement due to administration of leucovorin modulated MTX toxicity and/or modified an interaction among VP-16, ARA-C, intrathecal therapy, and the central nervous system.
Department of Pediatrics, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Children's Medical Center, Dallas 75235-9063.