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Pretreatment long interspersed element (LINE)-1 methylation levels, not early hypomethylation under treatment, predict hematological response to azacitidine in elderly patients with acute myeloid leukemia

Authors Cross M, Bach E, Tran T, Krahl R, Jaekel N, Niederwieser D, Junghanss C, Maschmeyer G, Al-Ali HK

Received 20 March 2013

Accepted for publication 14 May 2013

Published 20 June 2013 Volume 2013:6 Pages 741—748


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 4

Michael Cross,1 Enrica Bach,1 Thao Tran,1 Rainer Krahl,1 Nadja Jaekel,1 Dietger Niederwieser,1 Christian Junghanss,2 Georg Maschmeyer,3 Haifa Kathrin Al-Ali1

1Division of Hematology and Oncology, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany; 2Clinic for Hematology, Oncology and Palliative Medicine, University of Rostock, Rostock, Germany; 3Clinic for Hematology, Oncology and Palliative Medicine, Ernst-von-Bergmann Clinic, Potsdam, Germany

Background: Epigenetic modulations, including changes in DNA cytosine methylation, are implicated in the pathogenesis and progression of acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Azacitidine is a hypomethylating agent that is incorporated into RNA as well as DNA. Thus, there is a rationale to its use in patients with AML. We determined whether baseline and/or early changes in the methylation of long interspersed element (LINE)-1 or CDH13 correlate with bone marrow blast clearance, hematological response, or survival in patients with AML treated with azacitidine.
Methods: An open label, phase I/II trial was performed in 40 AML patients (median bone marrow blast count was 42%) unfit for intensive chemotherapy treated with azacitidine 75 mg/m2/day subcutaneously for 5 days every 4 weeks. Bone marrow mononuclear cell samples were taken on day 0 (pretreatment) and day 15 during the first treatment cycle; LINE-1 and CDH13 methylation levels were quantified by methylation-specific, semiquantitative, real-time polymerase chain reaction.
Results: Treatment with azacitidine significantly reduced LINE-1 but not CDH13 methylation levels over the first cycle (P < 0.0001). Absolute LINE-1 methylation levels tended to be lower on day 0 (P = 0.06) and day 15 of cycle 1 (P = 0.03) in patients who went on to achieve subsequent complete remission, partial remission or hematological improvement versus patients with stable disease. However, the decrease in LINE-1 methylation over the first treatment cycle did not correlate with subsequent response (P = 0.31). Baseline methylation levels of LINE-1 or CDH13 did not correlate with disease-related prognostic factors, including cytogenetic risk, relapsed/refractory AML, or presence of NPM1 or FLT3 mutations. No correlation was observed between LINE-1 or CDH13 methylation levels and overall survival.
Conclusion: Analysis of baseline LINE-1 methylation levels may help identify elderly AML patients who are most likely to respond to azacitidine therapy.

Keywords: DNA methylation, acute myeloid leukemia, azacitidine, clinical response, CDH13, LINE-1 methylation

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