Asparaginase-associated pancreatitis in children

Br J Haematol. 2012 Oct;159(1):18-27. doi: 10.1111/bjh.12016. Epub 2012 Aug 22.


l-asparaginase has been an element in the treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma since the late 1960s and remains an essential component of their combination chemotherapy. Among the major toxicities associated with l-asparaginase therapy are pancreatitis, allergic reactions, thrombotic events, hepatotoxicity and hyperlipidaemia. Acute pancreatitis is one of the most common reasons for stopping treatment with l-asparaginase. Short-term complications of asparaginase-associated pancreatitis include development of pseudocysts and pancreatic necrosis. Long-term complications include chronic pancreatitis and diabetes. The pathophysiology of asparaginase-associated pancreatitis remains to be uncovered. Individual clinical and genetic risk factors have been identified, but they are only weak predictors of pancreatitis. This review explores the definition, possible risk factors, treatment and complications of asparaginase-associated pancreatitis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Asparaginase / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Pancreatitis / chemically induced*
  • Pancreatitis / drug therapy
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / drug therapy*
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Asparaginase