Thalidomide in myelofibrosis with myeloid metaplasia: A pooled-analysis of individual patient data from five studies

Barosi Giovanni, Elliott Michelle, Canepa Letizia, Ballerini Filippo, Piccaluga Pier Paolo, Visani Giuseppe, Marchetti Monia, Pozzato Gabriele, Zorat Fancesca, Tefferi Ayalew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


Trials to determine the effect of thalidomide in patients with Myelofibrosis with Myeloid Metaplasia (MMM) have produced inconclusive results due to different criteria for response and heterogeneous study participants. We undertook a pooled-analysis to assess the effects of such treatment on a larger series of cases and with a uniform assessment of response. We used updated data on 62 individual patients from 5 phase II trials that evaluated thalidomide therapy in MMM patients. Response was judged on individual disease parameters, on the improvement of the Dupriez risk categories and on the improvement of a 6 point "severity score" based on myeloproliferative and myelodepletive indexes of the disease. Overall, using standard dose of thalidomide, i.e. starting with no less than 100 mg/day, 49 patients (79%) had more than 4 weeks of therapy. Twenty-nine percent of patients with moderate to severe anemia showed an increase in hemoglobin or reduction/abolishment of blood transfusion requirements, 38% with moderate to severe thrombocytopenia had an increase in platelet counts, and 41% with high grade splenomegaly demonstrated a measurable reduction in splenic size. These effects led to an absolute decrease in the "severity" score in 44.9% of the patients. Major disease severity and high degrees of splenomegaly before therapy predicted response with a probability of 61.9%. However, worsening of the "severity" score was observed in 20.4% of the patients, 18% having a "myeloproliferative reaction" with leukocytosis and/or thrombocytosis. Sixty-six percent of the patients discontinued the drug before 6 months of treatment due to intolerance. In conclusion, there is a small but clear improvement of disease severity with thalidomide therapy in MMM. The potential for myeloproliferative reactions and the unfavorable dose-related toxicity profile argue for future studies using lower doses of this drug.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2301-2307
Number of pages7
JournalLeukemia and Lymphoma
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2002


  • Myelofibrosis with myeloid metaplasia
  • Myeloproliferative reaction
  • Pooled-analysis
  • Splenomegaly
  • Thalidomide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


Dive into the research topics of 'Thalidomide in myelofibrosis with myeloid metaplasia: A pooled-analysis of individual patient data from five studies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this