Prophylactic use of human leukocyte interferon after allogeneic marrow transplantation

Journal Article

Study Objective: To determine the efficacy of prophylactic interferon for prevention of cytomegalovirus infection and relapse of leukemia after allogeneic marrow transplantation. Design: Randomized trial with intermittent interferon administration to day 80 after transplantation. Setting: Marrow transplantation units of a cancer research center. Patients: Consecutive patients with acute lymphocytic leukemia in remission at the time of transplantation. Thirty-nine patients received interferon, and 40 were control patients. Interventions: Partially purified human leukocyte interferon given every 3 days beginning after marrow engraftment and continuing to day 80 after transplantation. After initial safety testing, the starting and minimum dose was 6 x 104 units/kg of body weight, with dose escalations determined by the circulating neutrophil count. Transplant conditioning and post-transplantation prophylaxis of graft-versus-host disease with methotrexate followed standard procedures. Measurements and Main Results: No difference was observed in the probability or severity of cytomegalovirus infection or in the probability or severity of graft-versus-host disease. Relapse of leukemia occurred in 9 interferon recipients and 21 control patients, with a minimum follow-up of 4 years among surviving patients. The probability of relapse among all interferon recipients was 0.36 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.56 to 0.17) and among all control patients was 0.74 (95% CI, 0.91 to 0.58) (p = 0.04 by log-rank test). Among patients who received transplants in first or second remission, the probability of relapse among interferon recipients was 0.19 (95% CI, 0.37 to 0.02) compared with 0.71 (95% CI, 0.97 to 0.51) among control patients (p = 0.008 by log-rank test). Survival rates did not differ between interferon recipients and control patients. Transient decreases in leukocyte count and anorexia and nausea occurred among interferon recipients. Six interferon recipients, all of whom had received chemoradiotherapy of the central nervous system before transplantation, developed leukoencephalopathy after transplantation. Conclusions: These data suggest that interferon given after transplantation reduces the risk for subsequent relapse of leukemia. The effect of longer administration and of administration in patients with other underlying diseases will require additional trials. No effect was observed on cytomegalovirus infection, either because interferon was not initiated until a median of 18 days after transplantation or because of a lesser effect among marrow allograft recipients.

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Meyers, JD; Flournoy, N; Sanders, JE; McGuffin, RW; Newton, BA; Fisher, LD; Lum, LG; Appelbaum, FR; Doney, K; Sullivan, KM; Storb, R; Buckner, CD; Thomas, ED

Published Date

  • 1987

Published In

  • Annals of Internal Medicine

Volume / Issue

  • 107 / 6

Start / End Page

  • 809 - 816

PubMed ID

  • 2825571