Purpose: Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) is an important effector and regulatory cytokine involved in the pathophysiology of hematologic malignancies, including hairy cell leukemia (HCL), chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), agnogenic myeloid metaplasia (AMM) and Philadelphia-negative myeloproliferative disorders (MPD). We conducted a pilot study to assess the safety of the soluble TNF receptor, etanercept (p75 TNFR:Fc; Enbrel) in patients with refractory hematologic malignancies.
Methods: Patients were eligible if they had refractory HCL, CLL, AMM, or Philadelphia-negative MPD. Enbrel was administered twice weekly at a dose of 25 mg subcutaneously for a minimum of eight doses, and was continued in patients without overt progression.
Results: Among the 26 patients enrolled on study, 25 patients were evaluable. Nine patients had AMM, eight CLL, three HCL, and five Philadelphia-negative MPD. Their median age was 60 years (range 30-83 years). A total of 70 courses consisting of 486 doses of Enbrel were administered. Enbrel was well tolerated, without any overt increase in infectious episodes. Stable disease/no objective response was seen in 22 patients (88%) and progression in 3 patients (12%). Three patients with AMM improved (two showed hematologic improvement, and one showed a reduction in liver and spleen size), and two patients (one with CLL and one with Philadelphia-negative MPD) showed improvement in disease-related symptoms.
Conclusions: Enbrel was well tolerated, but no responses were noted in these immunosuppressed patients with refractory hematologic malignancies.