All trans retinoic acid in acute promyelocytic leukemia

Oncogene. 2001 Oct 29;20(49):7140-5. doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1204763.


All trans retinoic acid (ATRA) is able to induce complete remission (CR) in almost all patients with acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) through in vivo differentiation of APL blasts. However, it cannot eliminate the leukemic clone and to be effective must be used in combination with anthracycline-based chemotherapy. Experience accumulated over the last 10 years has clearly shown that the combination of ATRA and chemotherapy gives better survival in newly diagnosed APL than chemotherapy alone because of fewer relapses and a higher CR rate experienced by these patients. It is also strongly suggested that maintenance treatment with ATRA, and possibly in combination with low-dose chemotherapy, can further reduce the incidence of relapse. Overall, more than 90% of patients with newly diagnosed APL can achieve CR and about 75% can be cured by the combination of ATRA and chemotherapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Anthracyclines / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Karyotyping
  • Leukemia, Promyelocytic, Acute / diagnosis
  • Leukemia, Promyelocytic, Acute / drug therapy*
  • Leukemia, Promyelocytic, Acute / immunology
  • Prognosis
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Remission Induction
  • Secondary Prevention
  • Survival Rate
  • Tretinoin / administration & dosage
  • Tretinoin / therapeutic use*


  • Anthracyclines
  • Tretinoin