Venetoclax and hypomethylating agent therapy in high risk myelodysplastic syndromes: a retrospective evaluation of a real-world experience

Leuk Lymphoma. 2020 Nov;61(11):2700-2707. doi: 10.1080/10428194.2020.1775214. Epub 2020 Jun 16.


Treatment with hypomethylating agents (HMAs) azacitidine or decitabine is the current standard of care for high risk myelodysplastic syndromes (MDSs) but is associated with low rates of response. The limited number of treatment options for patients with high risk MDS highlights a need for new therapeutic options. Venetoclax is an inhibitor of the BCL-2 protein which, when combined with an HMA, has shown high response rates in unfit and previously untreated acute myeloid leukemia. We performed a retrospective study of high risk MDS patients receiving combination HMA plus venetoclax in order to determine their effectiveness in this context. We show that in our cohort, the combination results in high response rates but is associated with a high frequency of myelosuppression. These data highlight the efficacy of combination HMA plus venetoclax in high risk MDS, warranting further prospective evaluation in clinical trials.

Keywords: Myelodysplastic syndromes; hypomethylating agents; venetoclax.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Azacitidine / adverse effects
  • Bridged Bicyclo Compounds, Heterocyclic
  • Decitabine
  • Humans
  • Myelodysplastic Syndromes* / drug therapy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sulfonamides
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Bridged Bicyclo Compounds, Heterocyclic
  • Sulfonamides
  • Decitabine
  • Azacitidine
  • venetoclax