The role of therapeutic leukapheresis in hyperleukocytotic AML

PLoS One. 2014 Apr 14;9(4):e95062. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0095062. eCollection 2014.


Purpose: Hyperleukocytosis in AML with leukostasis is a serious life-threatening condition leading to a high early mortality which requires immediate cytoreductive therapy. Therapeutic leukapheresis is currently recommended by the American Society of Apheresis in patients with a WBC>100 G/l with signs of leukostasis, but the role of prophylactic leukapheresis before clinical signs of leukostasis occur is unclear.

Patients: We retrospectively analyzed the role of leukapheresis in 52 patients (median age 60 years) with hyperleukocytotic AML with and without clinical signs of leukostasis. Since leukapheresis was performed more frequently in patients with signs of leukostasis due to the therapeutic policy in our hospital, we developed a risk score for early death within seven days after start of therapy (EDd7) to account for this selection bias and to independently measure the effect of leukapheresis on EDd7.

Results: 20 patients received leukapheresis in combination to chemotherapy compared to 32 patients who received chemotherapy only. In a multivariate logistic regression model for the estimation of the probability of EDd7 thromboplastin time and creatinine remained as independent significant parameters and were combined to create an EDd7 risk score. The effect of leukapheresis on EDd7 was evaluated in a bivariate logistic regression together with the risk score. Leukapheresis did not significantly change early mortality in all patients with a WBC≥100 G/l.

Discussion: Prophylactic leukapheresis in hyperleukocytotic patients with and without leukostasis did not improve early mortality in our retrospective study. Larger and prospective clinical trials are needed to validate the risk score and to further explore the role of leukapheresis in AML with hyperleukocytosis.

MeSH terms

  • Cytogenetic Analysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leukapheresis*
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / drug therapy
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / genetics
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / mortality
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / therapy*
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Leukocytosis / drug therapy
  • Leukocytosis / genetics
  • Leukocytosis / mortality
  • Leukocytosis / therapy*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome

Grants and funding

The authors have no support or funding to report.