BioMed Research International (2014-01-01)

Efficacy and Pharmacologic Data of Second-Generation Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor Nilotinib in BCR-ABL-Positive Leukemia Patients with Central Nervous System Relapse after Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplantation

  • Mark Reinwald,
  • Eberhard Schleyer,
  • Philipp Kiewe,
  • Igor Wolfgang Blau,
  • Thomas Burmeister,
  • Stefan Pursche,
  • Martin Neumann,
  • Michael Notter,
  • Eckhard Thiel,
  • Wolf-Karsten Hofmann,
  • Hans-Jochem Kolb,
  • Stefan Burdach,
  • Hans-Ulrich Bender

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 2014


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Central nervous system (CNS) involvement is a severe complication of BCR-ABL-positive leukemia after allogenic stem cell transplantation (alloSCT) associated with fatal outcome. Although second-generation tyrosine-kinase inhibitors (TKI) such as nilotinib have shown activity in systemic BCR-ABL+ disease, little data exists on their penetration and efficacy within the CNS. Four patients (3 male, 1 female; age 15–49) with meningeal relapse after alloSCT and subsequent treatment with nilotinib were identified. A total of 17 cerebrospinal fluid (csf) and serum samples were assessed for nilotinib concentration and patient outcome was recorded. Nilotinib concentrations showed a low median csf/plasma ratio of 0.53% (range 0.23–1.5%), yet pronounced clinical efficacy was observed with long-lasting responses (>1 year) in three patients. Comparison with historical data showed a trend towards superior efficacy of nilotinib versus imatinib. Despite poor csf penetration, nilotinib showed significant clinical activity in CNS relapse of BCR-ABL+ leukemias. As nilotinib has a high protein-binding affinity, the low-protein concentration in csf could translate into a relatively higher amount of free and therefore active nilotinib in csf as compared to blood, possibly explaining the observed efficacy. Thus, treatment with a 2nd generation TKI warrants further investigation and should be considered in cases of CNS relapse of BCR-ABL-positive leukemia after alloSCT.