Hepatotoxicity During Maintenance Therapy and Prognosis in Children With Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

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Hepatotoxicity is a known toxicity to treatment of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Hepatotoxicity occurs during maintenance therapy and is caused by metabolites of 6-Mercaptopurine (6 MP) and Methotrexate (MTX). Our objective was to investigate the association between alanine aminotransferases (ALAT) levels and relapse rate. We included 385 patients enrolled in the NOPHO ALL-92 protocol. Data on ALAT levels, 6 MP and MTX doses, cytotoxic MTX/6 MP metabolites, and thiopurine methyltransferase (TPMT) activity were prospectively registered. In total, 91% of the patients had a mean ALAT (mALAT) level above upper normal limit (40 IU/L) and ALAT levels were positively correlated to 6 MP doses (rs=0.31; P<0.001). In total, 47 patients suffered a relapse, no difference in mALAT levels were found in these compared with nonrelapse patients (median, 107 vs. 98 IU/L; P=0.39). mALAT levels in patients classified as TPMT high activity (TPMTWT) were higher than in TPMT low-activity patients (median, 103 vs. 82 IU/L; P=0.03). In a Cox regression model risk of relapse was not associated with ALAT levels (P=0.56). ALAT levels increased 2.7%/month during the last year of maintenance therapy (P<0.001). In conclusion, elevated ALAT levels are associated with TPMTWT and may indicate treatment adherence in these patients. If liver function is normal, elevated ALAT levels should not indicate treatment adaptation.

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