AML with Myelodysplasia-Related Changes: Development, Challenges, and Treatment Advances

Genes (Basel). 2020 Jul 24;11(8):845. doi: 10.3390/genes11080845.


Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) with myelodysplasia-related changes (AML-MRC) is a distinct biologic subtype of AML that represents 25-34% of all AML diagnoses and associates with especially inferior outcomes compared to non-MRC AML. Typically, patients with AML-MRC experience low remission rates following intensive chemotherapy and a median overall survival of merely 9-12 months. In light of these discouraging outcomes, it has become evident that more effective therapies are needed for patients with AML-MRC. Liposomal daunorubicin-cytarabine (CPX-351) was approved in 2017 for adults with newly diagnosed AML-MRC and those with therapy-related AML (t-AML), and remains the only therapy specifically approved for this patient population. Other studies have also demonstrated the efficacy of the hypomethylating agent (HMA) azacitidine as upfront therapy for AML-MRC patients, which, to date, is the most common treatment employed for patients unable to tolerate the more intensive CPX-351. HMAs and venetoclax combinations have also been evaluated, but additional studies utilizing these agents in this specific subgroup are needed before conclusions regarding their role in the therapeutic armamentarium of AML-MRC patients can be reached. Currently, many studies are ongoing in attempts to further improve outcomes in this historically ill-fated patient group.

Keywords: CPX-351; acute myeloid leukemia with myelodysplasia-related changes; secondary AML.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cytarabine / therapeutic use*
  • Daunorubicin / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / complications
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / drug therapy*
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / pathology
  • Myelodysplastic Syndromes / complications
  • Myelodysplastic Syndromes / drug therapy*
  • Myelodysplastic Syndromes / pathology
  • Prognosis


  • CPX-351
  • Cytarabine
  • Daunorubicin