Durable responses with the metronomic rituximab and thalidomide plus prednisone, etoposide, procarbazine, and cyclophosphamide regimen in elderly patients with recurrent mantle cell lymphoma

Cancer. 2010 Jun 1;116(11):2655-64. doi: 10.1002/cncr.25055.


Background: Targeting the tumor microenvironment and angiogenesis is a novel lymphoma therapeutic strategy. The authors report safety, activity, and angiogenic profiling results with the rituximab and thalidomide plus prednisone, etoposide, procarbazine, and cyclophosphamide (RT-PEPC) regimen in patients with recurrent mantle cell lymphoma (MCL).

Methods: RT-PEPC included induction (Months 1-3) of rituximab 4 times weekly, daily thalidomide (50 mg), and PEPC followed by maintenance thalidomide (100 mg), oral PEPC titrated to the neutrophil count, and rituximab every 4 months. Endpoints included safety, efficacy, quality of life (QoL), and translational studies, including tumor angiogenic phenotyping, plasma vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and circulating endothelial cells.

Results: Twenty-five patients were enrolled, and 22 were evaluable. The median age was 68 years (range, 52-81 years), 24 patients (96%) had stage III or IV disease, 18 patients (72%) had an International Prognostic Index (IPI) score of 3 to 5, and 20 patients (80%) had high-risk Mantle Cell International Prognostic Index (MIPI) scores. Patients had received a median of 2 previous therapies (range, 1-7 previous therapies), and 15 patients (60%) had progressed on bortezomib. At a median follow-up of 38 months, the overall response rate was 73% (complete response [CR]/unconfirmed CR rate, 32%; partial response [PR] rate, 41%; n = 22 patients), and the median progression-free survival was 10 months. Four CRs were ongoing (> or =6 months, > or =31 months, > or =48 months, and > or =50 months). Toxicities included grade 1 and 2 fatigue, rash, neuropathy, and cytopenias, including grade 1 and 2 thrombocytopenia (64%) and grade 3 and 4 neutropenia (64%). Two thromboses and 5 episodes of grade 3 or 4 infections occurred. QoL was maintained or improved. Correlative studies demonstrated tumor autocrine angiogenic loop (expression of VEGF A and VEGF receptor 1) and heightened angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis in stroma. Plasma VEGF levels and circulating endothelial cells trended down with treatment.

Conclusions: RT-PEPC had significant and durable activity in MCL with manageable toxicity and maintained QoL. Novel, low-intensity approaches warrant further evaluation, potentially as initial therapy in elderly patients.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Murine-Derived
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Cyclophosphamide / administration & dosage
  • Etoposide / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma, Mantle-Cell / drug therapy*
  • Lymphoma, Mantle-Cell / psychology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic
  • Prednisone / administration & dosage
  • Procarbazine / administration & dosage
  • Quality of Life
  • Recurrence
  • Rituximab
  • Thalidomide / administration & dosage
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Murine-Derived
  • Procarbazine
  • Rituximab
  • Thalidomide
  • Etoposide
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Prednisone