Background: Posttherapy measurable residual disease (MRD) positivity in core binding factor acute myeloid leukemia (CBF-AML) is associated with shorter relapse-free survival (RFS). Elimination of MRD measured via quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (qRTPCR) for disease specific transcripts can potentially lead to better outcomes in CBF-AML. Methods: We prospectively monitored the MRD using qRTPCR and flow cytometry on bone marrow samples in patients with newly diagnosed CBF-AML who received decitabine (DAC) maintenance therapy after fludarabine/cytarabine/G-CSF (FLAG)-based induction/consolidation regimen. Negative qRTPCR (CMR) was defined as fusion transcript <0.01%. Results: Thirty-one patients with CBF-AML including 14 with t(8;21) and 17 with inv(16) received parenteral DAC as maintenance therapy. Fifteen patients (48.3%) had completed FLAG-based induction/consolidation but with positive MRD (0.35%, range = 0.01%–0.91%) (Group 1). Sixteen patients (51.7%) could not complete recommended consolidations with FLAG-based regimen (due to older age or complications) and were switched to DAC maintenance (Group 2). In Group 2, eight patients (50%) had undetectable MRD (Group 2A) (all had qRTPCR ≤ 0.01%) and the other eight patients (50%) had residual fusion product by qRTPCR (0.1%, range = 0.02%–0.36%) (Group 2B) prior to starting DAC. Amongst the 23 patients who had a PCR ≥ 0.01% before maintenance therapy (Groups 1 and 2B), 12 patients (52%) attained a CMR as their best response (responders). The median pre-DAC qRTPCR amongst responders were 0.03% compared to 0.14% in nonresponders (p =.002). The median estimated molecular RFS amongst responders were 93.9 months. At a median follow-up of 59.3 months (13.2–106 months) from DAC initiation, 16 patients (51.6%) had to be initiated on a second line of therapy (40%, 25%, and 100% patients, respectively, in Groups1, 2A, and 2B). The median estimated time to new treatment between responders was 112.4 versus 5.8 months in nonresponders (hazard ratio = 0.16, 95% confidence interval = 0.04–0.54); however, there were no difference in overall survival between these groups (p =.37). Conclusion: DAC is an effective maintenance therapy for CBF-AML patients with persistent fusion transcript at a low level after FLAG-based regimen. Attainment of CMR with DAC maintenance can lead to long-term remission in patients who have persistent MRD positive after FLAG-based regimen or are unable to receive the full course of consolidation therapy.
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