Durability of responses to interferon alfa-2b in advanced hairy cell leukemia

Blood. 1987 Mar;69(3):872-7.


Previous studies have demonstrated that significant hematologic improvement occurs in the majority of patients with hairy cell leukemia (HCL) treated with partially purified or recombinant interferon (IFN). Fifty-three patients received IFN alfa-2b for at least 3 months in a dose of 2 X 10(6) U/m2 subcutaneously thrice weekly. Of the 49 patients evaluable for response (at least 6 months of IFN therapy), there were ten complete responses and 29 partial responses for a total response rate of 80%. The peripheral blood counts and bone marrow continued to improve over the course of a full year of therapy. IFN was well tolerated, with no patients discontinuing therapy because of toxicity. Transient myelosuppression occurred in most patients during the first 1 to 2 months of therapy, occasionally precipitating a transfusion requirement. After IFN treatment was discontinued, there was a marked decrease in normal marrow elements and a relative increase in marrow hairy cells. This was associated with a transient increase in normal elements in the peripheral blood. Only one of 24 patients followed after receiving IFN for a median of 8.5 months (range, 3 to 16 months) has required further therapy. We conclude that low-dose IFN alfa-2b is highly effective in advanced HCL; responding patients should be treated for at least 1 year. The decision to initiate a second course of IFN therapy should be based primarily on peripheral blood counts and the clinical status of the patient rather than on the bone marrow.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alkaline Phosphatase / analysis
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Blood Cell Count
  • Bone Marrow Diseases / chemically induced
  • Bone Marrow Examination
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Interferon Type I / adverse effects
  • Interferon Type I / therapeutic use*
  • Leukemia, Hairy Cell / therapy*
  • Male
  • Neoplasm Proteins / analysis
  • Neutrophils / enzymology
  • Random Allocation
  • Recombinant Proteins / adverse effects
  • Recombinant Proteins / therapeutic use
  • Splenectomy


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Interferon Type I
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Alkaline Phosphatase