Leukopenia is a biomarker for effective temozolomide dosing and predicts overall survival of patients with glioblastoma
- K. Grace Ho
- Erik N. Uhlmann
- Eric T. Wong
- Erik J. Uhlmann
Affiliations: Department of Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02215, USA, Khoury College of Computer Sciences, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115, USA
- Published online on: October 1, 2020 https://doi.org/10.3892/mco.2020.2150
Copyright: © Ho
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The median survival time of patients with glioblastoma is 14‑16 months with a 5‑year overall survival rate of 9.8%. Standard of care treatment includes radiation with concomitant temozolomide followed by cyclic temozolomide. If the patient develops myelosuppression (thrombocytopenia, leukopenia or anemia), the dose of temozolomide is reduced or stopped to avoid bleeding or infections. Recent studies have demonstrated that mild leukopenia is associated with increased overall survival in patients with glioblastoma. To confirm prior results showing that leukopenia is associated with increased overall survival as a primary outcome in patients with glioblastoma, the present study retrospectively collected complete blood counts from 141 patients with glioblastoma treated at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (Boston, USA) between January 2012 and December 2017. According to Kaplan‑Meier analysis with a log‑rank test, the presence of leukopenia was associated with increased overall survival (P=0.008). Furthermore, patients with grade 2 leukopenia (Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events version 5.0) survived longer than those without myelosuppression (P=0.024). There was no difference in overall survival between patients with grade 1, 3 or 4 leukopenia and those without myelosuppression. Leukopenia was associated with longer survival independent of age or extent of surgery in Cox proportional hazards regression modeling (P=0.00205). A possible interpretation is that grade 2 leukopenia is a biomarker of adequate temozolomide dosing in a population with diverse DNA repair function, which may be the consequence of variable O6‑methylguanine‑DNA methyltransferase activity. A prospective dose escalation trial is necessary to determine if treatment‑induced leukopenia is beneficial for all patients receiving temozolomide.