Measurable residual disease in elderly acute myeloid leukemia: results from the PETHEMA-FLUGAZA phase 3 clinical trial
Catia Simoes, Bruno Paiva, David Martínez-Cuadrón, Juan-Miguel Bergua, Susana Vives, Lorenzo Algarra, Mar Tormo, Pilar Martinez, Josefina Serrano, Pilar Herrera, Fernando Ramos, Olga Salamero, Esperanza Lavilla, Cristina Gil, Jose-Luis Lopez, Maria-Belen Vidriales, Jorge Labrador, Jose-Francisco Falantes, María-José Sayas, Rosa Ayala, Joaquin Martinez-Lopez, Sara Villar, Maria-Jose Calasanz, Felipe Prosper, Jesús F San-Miguel, Miguel Ángel Sanz, Pau Montesinos
The value of measurable residual disease (MRD) in elderly patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is inconsistent between those treated with intensive vs hypomethylating drugs, and unknown after semi-intensive therapy. We investigated the role of MRD in refining complete remission (CR) and treatment duration in the phase 3 FLUGAZA clinical trial, which randomized 283 elderly AML patients to induction and consolidation with fludarabine plus cytarabine (FLUGA) vs 5-azacitidine.
After consolidation, patients continued treatment if MRD was ≥0.01% or stopped if MRD was <0.01%, as assessed by multidimensional flow cytometry (MFC). On multivariate analysis including genetic risk and treatment arm, MRD status in patients achieving CR (N = 72) was the only independent prognostic factor for relapse-free survival (RFS) (HR, 3.45; P = .002). Achieving undetectable MRD significantly improved RFS of patients with adverse genetics (HR, 0.32; P = .013).
Longer overall survival was observed in patients with undetectable MRD after induction though not after consolidation. Although leukemic cells from most patients displayed phenotypic aberrancies vs their normal counterpart (N = 259 of 265), CD34 progenitors from cases with undetectable MRD by MFC carried extensive genetic abnormalities identified by whole-exome sequencing.
Interestingly, the number of genetic alterations significantly increased from diagnosis to MRD stages in patients treated with FLUGA vs 5-azacitidine (2.2-fold vs 1.1-fold; P = .001). This study supports MRD assessment to refine CR after semi-intensive therapy or hypomethylating agents, but unveils that improved sensitivity is warranted to individualize treatment and prolong survival of elderly AML patients achieving undetectable MRD.