Therapeutic use of valproic acid and all-trans retinoic acid in acute myeloid leukemia—literature review and discussion of possible use in relapse after allogeneic stem cell transplantation
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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OriginalversjonPharmaceuticals. 2021, 14 (5), 423. 10.3390/ph14050423
Even though allogeneic stem cell transplantation is the most intensive treatment for acute myeloid leukemia (AML), chemo-resistant leukemia relapse is still one of the most common causes of death for these patients, as is transplant-related mortality, i.e., graft versus host disease, infections, and organ damage. These relapse patients are not always candidates for additional intensive therapy or re-transplantation, and many of them have decreased quality of life and shortened expected survival. The efficiency of azacitidine for treatment of posttransplant AML relapse has been documented in several clinical trials. Valproic acid is an antiepileptic fatty acid that exerts antileukemic activity through histone deacetylase inhibition. The combination of valproic acid and all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) is well tolerated even by unfit or elderly AML patients, and low-toxicity chemotherapy (e.g., azacitidine) can be added to this combination. The triple combination of azacitidine, valproic acid, and ATRA may therefore represent a low-intensity and low-toxicity alternative for these patients. In the present review, we review and discuss the general experience with valproic acid/ATRA in AML therapy and we discuss its possible use in low-intensity/toxicity treatment of post-allotransplant AML relapse. Our discussion is further illustrated by four case reports where combined treatments with sequential azacitidine/hydroxyurea, valproic acid, and ATRA were used.