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Retrospective analyses in non-randomised cohorts suggest that regimens containing fludarabine/Ara C and/or idarubicin/ara C may be more effective than daunorubicin/AraC (DA)-containing regimens in cases of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) overexpressing p-glycoprotein (Pgp). We prospectively measured Pgp protein and function by flow cytometry in CD45-gated blasts from 434 AML15 trial patients randomised to remission induction therapy with two courses of FLAG-Ida or DA±etoposide (DA/ADE). In all, 34% were positive for Pgp protein and 38% for function. Pgp protein-positive cases had a higher incidence of resistant disease (14% vs 5%), adjusted odds ratio 2.67 (1.14-6.24). There was a trend towards a higher cumulative incidence of relapse at 5 years for Pgp-positive cases (46% vs 55%), adjusted hazard ratio 1.42 (0.98-2.07) (P=0.06). For patients treated with FLAG-Ida, the complete remission (CR) rate was 86% for both Pgp-positive and Pgp-negative patients. In patients treated with DA/ADE, 78% of Pgp-positive and 90% of Pgp-negative cases achieved CR (P=0.06). In analyses of overall survival, there was no interaction between treatment received and Pgp expression. Data for Pgp function followed similar trends. Our data suggest that FLAG-Ida may improve the remission rate for Pgp-positive AML, but the malignant clone is reduced rather than eradicated such that the relapse rate remains high in Pgp-positive patients.

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Journal article


Blood Cancer J

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