Asparaginase Enzyme Activity Levels and Toxicity in Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia: a NOPHO ALL2008 study

Line Stensig Lynggaard, Cecilie Utke Rank, Stefan Nygaard Hansen, Sofie Gottschalk Højfeldt, Louise Tram Henriksen, Kirsten Brunsvig Jarvis, Susanna Ranta, Riitta Niinimäki, Arja Harila-Saari, Benjamin Ole Wolthers, Thomas Leth Frandsen, Mats Heyman, Kjeld Schmiegelow, Birgitte Klug Albertsen


Asparaginase treatment is a mainstay in contemporary treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), but substantial asparaginase-related toxicity may lead to jeopardized protocol compliance and compromises survival. We investigated the association between risk of asparaginase-associated toxicities (AspTox) and asparaginase enzyme activity (AEA) levels in 1155 children aged 1.0 to 17.9 years, diagnosed with ALL between July 2008 and March 2016, and treated according to the Nordic Society of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology (NOPHO) ALL2008 protocol. Patients with ≥2 blood samples for AEA measurement drawn 14 ± 2 days after asparaginase administration were included (6944 trough values). AEA was measurable (or >0 IU/L) in 955 patients, whereas 200 patients (17.3%) had asparaginase inactivation and few AspTox recorded. A time-dependent multiple Cox model of time to any first asparaginase-associated toxicity adjusted for sex and age was used. For patients with measurable AEA, we found a hazard ratio (HR) of 1.17 per 100 IU/L increase in median AEA (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.98-1.41; P = .09). For pancreatitis, thromboembolism, and osteonecrosis, the HRs were 1.40 (95% CI, 1.12-1.75; P = .002), 0.99 (95% CI, 0.70-1.40; P = .96), and 1.36 (95% CI, 1.04-1.77; P = .02) per 100 IU/L increase in median AEA, respectively. No significant decrease in the risk of leukemic relapse was found: HR 0.88 per 100 IU/L increase in AEA (95% CI, 0.66-1.16; P = .35). In conclusion, these results emphasize that overall AspTox and relapse are not associated with AEA levels, yet the risk of pancreatitis and osteonecrosis increases with increasing AEA levels.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBlood advances
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)138-147
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jan 2022


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