Background and methods: Preclinical studies performed in our laboratory showed that mouse leukemias become highly immunogenic following in vivo treatment with Decarbazine. This observation led to a successful immunochemotherapy protocol in mice using Dacarbazine plus cytoreductive chemotherapy. Therefore an in vivo and in vitro pilot study was conducted in patients (pts) with resistant or relapsed acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). The DNA-repair enzyme O6-alkylguanine-DNA-alkyl-transferase (OGAT) and the in vitro chemosensitivity to Temozolomide, a Dacarbazine derivative, were evaluated in leukemic blasts.
Results: Nine pts received Dacarbazine (0.4-0.8 g/sqm/day) on days 0, 1 and 2. On day 7, noticeable blast reduction occurred in 4 pts: pt 1 was in partial remission on day 21, pt 6 still showed bone marrow leukemia, pt 8 died of sepsis on day 8, pt 9 is still in aplasia on day 25. Low OGAT levels and consistent sensitivity to Temozolomide in vitro were found in the blasts of pts responsive to Dacarbazine. Subsequently, pts 1-7 underwent Ara-C (1g/sqm/day) plus Mitoxantrone (6mg/sqm/day) treatment for 6 days. Four pts entered complete remission after 27-45 days of aplasia. Failures were due to hypoplastic death, absolute drug resistance, or hypoplasia followed by blast cell regrowth.
Conclusions: These data point out that Dacarbazine can induce a marked reduction of blast cells as well as severe myelotoxicity in leukemic patients.