Addition of Etoposide to Initial Therapy of Adult Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia: A Combined Clinicaland Laboratory Study

Scott H. Kaufmann, Judith E. Karp, Philip J. Burke, Steven D. Gore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The role of high-dose etoposide in the initial treatment of newly diagnosed adult ALL was assessed in a combined clinical and laboratory study. Therapy on protocol JH8802 consisted of two induction modules, module 1 containing prednisone, vincristine, high-dose etoposide and L-asparaginase (L-asp), followed by module 2 containing cytarabine (Ara-C) and daunorubicin (DNR). Patients achieving a complete remission (CR) underwent bone marrow transplantation (BMT) or intensive maintenance therapy. Results were compared to the preceding protocol (JH8302), which was similar except for omission of etoposide and L-asp. The CR rate following module 1 was 45% on protocol JH8802 and 9% on protocol JH8302 (p < 0.0002). Nonetheless, the two protocols had similar CR rates following module 2 (69% on protocol JH8302; 77% on JH8802) and indistinguishable survivals. Laboratory investigations performed on blasts harvested prior to chemotherapy revealed two factors that could potentially contribute to decreased etoposide sensitivity in ALL blasts. A flow microfluorimetry-based assay of nuclear DNR accumulation detected small P-glycoprotein (Pgp)-mediated decreases in drug accumulation in a quarter of the samples. Western blotting demonstrated that topoisomerase II was present in all samples but was diminished in amount compared to the Molt3 human ALL cell line. Immunoperoxidase staining with affinity-purified antibodies revealed that topo Ha, the target for etoposide, was detectable in only a minority of the blasts (median 7.5%, range <1-35%) at diagnosis. These observations raise the possibility that alterations in drug accumulation and diminished target enzyme levels might both limit the long-term efficacy of a single course of high dose etoposide administered early in the treatment of adult ALL.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-83
Number of pages13
JournalLeukemia and Lymphoma
Issue number42006
StatePublished - Jan 1 1996


  • Drug resistance
  • P-glycoprotein
  • daunorubicin
  • etoposide
  • topoisomerase II

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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