Optimized therapeutic strategy for patients with refractory or relapsed acute myeloid leukemia: long-term clinical outcomes and health-related quality of life assessment

Cancer Commun (Lond). 2022 Oct 23. doi: 10.1002/cac2.12376. Online ahead of print.


Background: Patients with refractory or relapsed acute myeloid leukemia (AML) have poor survival, necessitating the exploration of optimized therapeutic strategy. Here, we aimed to investigate clinical outcomes and health-related quality of life (HR-QoL) after total therapy, which included allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-HSCT), and prophylactic donor lymphocyte infusion (DLI) in the early phase after transplantation, followed by multiple measurable residual disease (MRD) and graft-versus-host disease (GvHD)-guided DLIs.

Methods: Consecutive patients who had refractory or relapsed AML and had received non-T-cell-depleted allo-HSCT at Peking University Institute of Hematology were included in the study. If the patients achieved complete remission at 30 days after transplantation and had no evidence of relapse, severe infection, organ failure, and active GvHD at the time of planned DLI, prophylactic DLI was administered at 30 days after transplantation for human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-matched related HSCT or at 45-60 days after transplantation for haploidentical or unrelated HSCT. Subsequently, multiple DLIs were administered based on MRD results and whether they developed GvHD after transplantation.

Results: A total of 105 patients were eligible. Eighty-seven patients received prophylactic DLI (group B), while 18 did not receive prophylactic DLI (group A). Among 105 patients, the cumulative incidence of grade 2-4 acute GvHD and chronic GvHD was 40.6% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 30.6%-50.6%) and 73.3% (95% CI = 67.4%-79.2%), respectively. The cumulative incidence of relapse (CIR), transplant-related mortality (TRM), and leukemia-free survival (LFS) at 5 years after transplantation were 31.5% (95% CI = 21.9%-41.1%), 22.1% (95% CI = 11.3%-32.9%), and 46.4% (95% CI = 36.8%-56.0%), respectively. In group B, the CIR, TRM, and LFS at 5 years after transplantation were 27.6% (95% CI = 17.6%-37.6%), 21.6% (95% CI = 11.2%-32.0%), and 50.8% (95% CI = 40.0%-61.6%), respectively. At the end of follow-up, 48 patients survived, and more than 90% of survivors had satisfactory recoveries of HR-QoL.

Conclusions: Our study indicated that total therapy is not only associated with decreased CIR, comparable TRM, and better long-term LFS, but also with satisfactory HR-QoL for refractory or relapsed AML, compared with those of standard of care therapy reported previously. Therefore, total therapy may be an optimized therapeutic strategy for refractory or relapsed AML.

Keywords: acute myeloid leukemia; allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation; refractory; relapsed; total therapy.