Lenalidomide-Epoetin Alfa Versus Lenalidomide Monotherapy in Myelodysplastic Syndromes Refractory to Recombinant Erythropoietin
Journal of clinical oncology : official journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. 2021;:Jco2001691
PURPOSE Impaired response to erythropoietin underlies ineffective erythropoiesis and anemia in myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). We investigated whether treatment with lenalidomide (LEN), which augments erythropoietin receptor signaling in vitro, can restore and improve hemoglobin response to epoetin (EPO) alfa in patients with lower-risk, non-del(5q) MDS who have anemia that is refractory to or have low probability of benefit from treatment with recombinant erythropoietin. METHODS In a phase III, US intergroup trial, we randomly assigned patients to receive either LEN and EPO alfa or LEN alone following stratification by serum erythropoietin concentration and prior erythropoietin treatment. RESULTS A total of 195 evaluable patients were randomly assigned: 99 patients to the LEN-EPO alfa cohort and 96 to LEN alone. After four cycles of treatment, the primary end point of major erythroid response (MER) was significantly higher (28.3%) with the combination compared with LEN alone (11.5%) (P = .004). Among 136 patients who completed 16 weeks of study treatment, 38.9% and 15.6% achieved MER, respectively (P = .004). Additionally, minor erythroid response was achieved in 18.2% and 20.8% of patients, for an overall erythroid response rate of 46.5% versus 32.3%. Among LEN nonresponders, 38 crossed over to the addition of EPO alfa with 10 patients (26.3%) achieving a MER. Responses to the combined treatment were highly durable with a median MER duration of 23.8 months compared with 13 months with LEN alone. CONCLUSION LEN restores sensitivity to recombinant erythropoietin in growth factor-insensitive, lower-risk, non-del(5q) MDS, to yield a significantly higher rate and duration of MER compared with LEN alone (funded by the National Cancer Institute; E2905 ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT02048813).
Combined treatment with lenalidomide and epoetin alfa in lower-risk patients with myelodysplastic syndrome
The erythropoietic effects of lenalidomide are cytokine dependent, suggesting that the erythroid hematologic improvement (HI-E) rate may be augmented by combined treatment (CT) with recombinant human erythropoietin (rhu-EPO) in myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). In the present study, we explored the benefits of CT and the relationship between lenalidomide pharmacokinetics and hematologic toxicity in transfusion-dependent patients with low- to intermediate-1-risk MDS who failed prior rhu-EPO. In stage I, patients received 10 or 15 mg/d of lenalidomide monotherapy. At week 16, erythroid nonresponders (NRs) were eligible for CT with rhu-EPO 40 000 U/wk. Among 39 patients, HI-E response rate to monotherapy was 86% (6 of 7) in del(5q) and 25% (8 of 32) in non-del(5q) patients (10 mg, 17.7%; 15 mg, 33.3%). Twenty-three patients proceeded to CT, with 6 (26.0%) achieving HI-E. In 19 non-del(5q) patients, 4 (21.1%) showed HI-E. Mean baseline serum EPO in non-del(5q) patients was lower in monotherapy and CT responders than in NR (not statistically significant). Thrombocytopenia was significantly correlated with lenalidomide area under the plasma concentration-time curve (P = .0015), but severity of myelosuppression did not. The benefits of lenalidomide plus rhu-EPO are currently under investigation in a phase 3 Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG)-sponsored intergroup study. This study is registered at www.clinicaltrials.gov as NCT00910858.