The prognosis for infants with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), particularly those with KMT2A gene rearrangement (KMT2A-r), is dismal. Continuous efforts have been made in Japan to investigate the role of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) for infants with KMT2A-r ALL, but improvement in outcome was modest. In the Japanese Pediatric Leukemia/Lymphoma Study Group MLL-10 trial, infants with ALL were stratified into 3 risk groups (low risk [LR], intermediate risk [IR], and high risk [HR]) according to KMT2A status, age, and presence of central nervous system leukemia. Children's Oncology Group AALL0631 modified chemotherapy with the addition of high-dose cytarabine in early intensification was introduced to KMT2A-r patients, and the option of HSCT was restricted to HR patients only. The role of minimal residual disease (MRD) was also evaluated. Ninety eligible infants were stratified into LR (n = 15), IR (n = 19), or HR (n = 56) risk groups. The 3-year event-free survival (EFS) rate for patients with KMT2A-r ALL (IR + HR) was 66.2% (standard error [SE], 5.6%), and for those with germline KMT2A (KMT2A-g) ALL (LR), the 3-year EFS rate was 93.3% (SE, 6.4%). The 3-year EFS rate was 94.4% (SE, 5.4%) for IR patients and 56.6% (SE, 6.8%) for HR patients. In multivariable analysis, female sex and MRD ≥0.01% at the end of early consolidation were significant factors for poor prognosis. Risk stratification and introduction of intensive chemotherapy in this study were effective and were able to eliminate HSCT for a subset of infants with KMT2A-r ALL. Early clearance of MRD seems to have translated into favorable outcomes and should be incorporated into risk stratifications in future trials. This trial was registered at the University Hospital Medical Information Network Clinical Trials Registry (UMIN-CTR) as #UMIN000004801.
© 2020 by The American Society of Hematology.