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||Rapid and sustained clearance of circulating lymphoma cells after chemotherapy plus rituximab: clinical significance of quantitative t(14;18) PCR monitoring in advanced stage follicular lymphoma patients.
||Hirt C, Schüler F, Kiefer T, Schwenke C, Haas A, Niederwieser D, Neser S, Assmann M, Srock S, Rohrberg R, Dachselt K, Leithäuser M, Rabkin CS, Herold M, Dölken G
||Br J Haematol
||This study of first-line treatment in advanced-stage follicular lymphoma patients analysed the effects of MCP (mitoxantrone, chlorambucil and prednisolone) chemotherapy alone or in combination with rituximab (R-MCP) on circulating lymphoma cells (CLC) and assessed the prognostic value of a quantitative monitoring of CLC. CLC numbers were determined by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for the t(14;18)-translocation or by allele-specific PCR for rearranged immunoglobulin heavy chain genes. We analysed blood samples from 43 patients treated in a randomized trial comparing eight cycles of MCP versus R-MCP. Clearance of CLC at the end of therapy was achieved in 21/25 patients (84%) treated with R-MCP compared with 0/18 after MCP alone (P < 0.0001). A > or = 2 log CLC reduction was associated with a favourable clinical response (P = 0.0004) and prolonged event-free survival (P = 0.02). In R-MCP patients, stable CLC numbers or consistently PCR-negative blood samples were associated with a continuing clinical remission whereas in two patients a relapse was preceded by a > or = 2 log CLC increase. This study demonstrated that R-MCP led to a rapid and sustained eradication of CLC and a > or = 2 log CLC reduction was associated with a superior quality and duration of the clinical response.