Randomized Phase III Study of Lenalidomide Versus Placebo in RBC Transfusion-Dependent Patients With Lower-Risk Non-del(5q) Myelodysplastic Syndromes and Ineligible for or Refractory to Erythropoiesis-Stimulating Agents

J Clin Oncol. 2016 Sep 1;34(25):2988-96. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2015.66.0118. Epub 2016 Jun 27.


Purpose: This international phase III, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study assessed the efficacy and safety of lenalidomide in RBC transfusion-dependent patients with International Prognostic Scoring System lower-risk non-del(5q) myelodysplastic syndromes ineligible for or refractory to erythropoiesis-stimulating agents.

Patients and methods: In total, 239 patients were randomly assigned (2:1) to treatment with lenalidomide (n = 160) or placebo (n = 79) once per day (on 28-day cycles). The primary end point was the rate of RBC transfusion independence (TI) ≥ 8 weeks. Secondary end points were RBC-TI ≥ 24 weeks, duration of RBC-TI, erythroid response, health-related quality of life (HRQoL), and safety.

Results: RBC-TI ≥ 8 weeks was achieved in 26.9% and 2.5% of patients in the lenalidomide and placebo groups, respectively (P < .001). Ninety percent of patients achieving RBC-TI responded within 16 weeks of treatment. Median duration of RBC-TI with lenalidomide was 30.9 weeks (95% CI, 20.7 to 59.1). Transfusion reduction of ≥ 4 units packed RBCs, on the basis of a 112-day assessment, was 21.8% in the lenalidomide group and 0% in the placebo group. Higher response rates were observed in patients with lower baseline endogenous erythropoietin ≤ 500 mU/mL (34.0% v 15.5% for > 500 mU/mL). At week 12, mean changes in HRQoL scores from baseline did not differ significantly between treatment groups, which suggests that lenalidomide did not adversely affect HRQoL. Achievement of RBC-TI ≥ 8 weeks was associated with significant improvements in HRQoL (P < .01). The most common treatment-emergent adverse events were neutropenia and thrombocytopenia.

Conclusion: Lenalidomide yields sustained RBC-TI in 26.9% of RBC transfusion-dependent patients with lower-risk non-del(5q) myelodysplastic syndromes ineligible for or refractory to erythropoiesis-stimulating agents. Response to lenalidomide was associated with improved HRQoL. Treatment-emergent adverse event data were consistent with the known safety profile of lenalidomide.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01029262.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase III
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Resistance
  • Erythrocyte Transfusion*
  • Erythropoiesis / drug effects
  • Female
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Lenalidomide
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myelodysplastic Syndromes / blood
  • Myelodysplastic Syndromes / drug therapy
  • Myelodysplastic Syndromes / genetics
  • Myelodysplastic Syndromes / therapy*
  • Quality of Life
  • Thalidomide / adverse effects
  • Thalidomide / analogs & derivatives*
  • Thalidomide / therapeutic use


  • Thalidomide
  • Lenalidomide

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01029262