Asparaginase has been a mainstay of therapy in the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia since the 1970s. There are two major preparations available and FDA approved in the United States today, one derived from Escherichia coli and the other from Erwinia chrysanthemi. Erwinia asparaginase is antigenically distinct from and has a considerably shorter biological half-life than E coli asparaginase. Erwinia asparaginase has been used in cases of hypersensitivity to E. coli-derived asparaginases, which has been reported in up to 30% of patients. While PEG asparaginase is increasingly used in front-line therapy for ALL, hypersensitivity still occurs with this preparation, and a change to a non-cross-reactive preparation may be necessary.
Keywords: Asparaginase; hypersensitivity; leukemia; pancreatitis; thrombosis.