Improved outcome with hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in a poor prognostic subgroup of infants with mixed-lineage-leukemia (MLL)-rearranged acute lymphoblastic leukemia: Results from the Interfant-99 Study
To define a role for hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) in infants with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and rearrangements of the mixed-lineage-leukemia gene (MLL+), we compared the outcome of MLL+patients from trial Interfant-99 who either received chemotherapy only or HSCT. Of 376 patients with a known MLL status in the trial, 297 (79%) were MLL+. Among the 277 of 297 MLL+patients (93%) in first remission (CR), there appeared to be a significant difference in disease-free survival (adjusted by waiting time to HSCT) between the 37 (13%) who received HSCT and the 240 (87%) who received chemotherapy only (P = .03). However, the advantage was restricted to a subgroup with 2 additional unfavorable prognostic features: age less than 6 months and either poor response to steroids at day 8 or leukocytes more than or equal to 300 g/L. Ninety-seven of 297 MLL+patients (33%) had such high-risk criteria, with 87 achieving CR. In this group, HSCT was associated with a 64% reduction in the risk of failure resulting from relapse or death in CR (hazard ratio = 0.36, 95% confidence interval, 0.15-0.86). In the remaining patients, there was no advantage for HSCT over chemotherapy only. In summary, HSCT seems to be a valuable option for a subgroup of infant MLL+acute lymphoblastic leukemia carrying further poor prognostic factors. The trial was registered at www. clinicaltrials.gov as #NCT00015873 and at www.controlled-trials.com as #ISRCTN24251487.