Background: Ruxolitinib improves splenomegaly and symptoms in patients with intermediate-2 or high-risk myelofibrosis; however, nearly half develop grade 3/4 anemia and/or thrombocytopenia, necessitating dose reductions and/or transfusions. We report findings from an open-label phase 2 study exploring a dose-escalation strategy aimed at preserving clinical benefit while reducing hematological adverse events early in ruxolitinib treatment.
Methods: Patients with myelofibrosis received ruxolitinib 10 mg twice daily (BID), with incremental increases of 5 mg BID at weeks 12 and 18 for lack of efficacy (maximum, 20 mg BID). Symptom severity was measured using the Myelofibrosis Symptom Assessment Form Total Symptom Score (MFSAF TSS).
Results: Forty-five patients were enrolled, 68.9% of whom had a Dynamic International Prognostic Scoring System score of 1 to 2 (i.e., intermediate-1 disease risk). Median percentage change in spleen volume from baseline to week 24 was - 17.3% (≥ 10% reduction achieved by 26 patients [57.8%]), with a clear dose response. Median percentage change in MFSAF TSS from baseline at week 24 was - 45.6%, also with a dose response. The most frequent treatment-emergent adverse events were anemia (26.7%), fatigue (22.2%), and arthralgias (20.0%). Grade 3/4 anemia (20.0%) and dose decreases due to anemia (11.1%) or thrombocytopenia (6.7%) were infrequent.
Conclusions: A dose-escalation approach may mitigate worsening anemia during early ruxolitinib therapy in some patients with myelofibrosis.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov identifier, NCT01445769 . Registered September 23, 2011.
Keywords: Anemia; Janus kinase; Myelofibrosis; Ruxolitinib; Thrombocytopenia; Transfusion.