Detection and treatment of minimal residual disease in high-risk neuroblastoma

Pediatr Transplant. 2004 Jun;8 Suppl 5:56-66. doi: 10.1111/j.1398-2265.2004.00216.x.


Intensive, myeloablative therapy supported by autologous hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation (AHSCT) has improved the outcome for children with high-risk neuroblastoma. However, >50% of patients develop recurrent neuroblastoma, often from minimal residual disease (MRD). Immunocytological and reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) for genes highly expressed in neuroblastoma both can detect small amounts of MRD in blood and bone marrow, and detection of MRD at certain levels during therapy has prognostic value. Radionucleotide scans using meta-iodobenzaguanidine (MIBG) imaging allows sensitive detection of neuroblastoma in patients, but whether or not all MIBG-positive disease detected after AHSCT will progress remains to be defined and is complicated by use of post-AHSCT therapy. Selective removal of tumor cells from marrow or blood stem cells harvested for AHSCT could decrease recurrence by preventing infusion of tumorigenic cells with AHSCT. Treating MRD after AHSCT with the differentiation-inducing retinoid 13-cis-retinoic acid significantly /improved EFS of high-risk neuroblastoma patients. Randomized clinical trials in the Children's Oncology Group are testing the value of purging blood stem cells and also whether post-AHSCT therapy with an anti-GD2 monoclonal antibody (combined with cytokines) improves outcome over use of 13-cis-retinoic acid alone. New approaches to treating neuroblastoma MRD that are in early clinical trials include the cytotoxic retinoid fenretinide and the hu14.18-IL2 immunocytokine. It is anticipated that testing novel approaches to treating neuroblastoma MRD will be the subject of future phase-III randomized trials.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Cytological Techniques
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm, Residual / diagnosis*
  • Neoplasm, Residual / genetics
  • Neoplasm, Residual / pathology
  • Neoplasm, Residual / therapy*
  • Neuroblastoma / diagnosis*
  • Neuroblastoma / genetics
  • Neuroblastoma / therapy*