Decitabine is a hypomethylating agent that irreversibly inhibits DNA methyltransferase I, inducing leukemic differentiation and re-expression of epigenetically silenced putative tumor antigens. We assessed safety and efficacy of decitabine maintenance after allogeneic transplantation for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). Decitabine maintenance may help eradicate minimal residual disease, decrease the incidence of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), and facilitate a graft-versus-leukemia effect by enhancing the effect of T regulatory lymphocytes. Patients with AML/MDS in complete remission (CR) after allotransplantation started decitabine between day +50 and +100. We investigated 4 decitabine doses in cohorts of 4 patients: 5, 7.5, 10, and 15 mg/m2/day × 5 days every 6 weeks, for a maximum 8 cycles. The maximum tolerated dose (MTD) was defined as the maximum dose at which ≤ 25% of people experience dose-limiting toxicities during the first cycle of treatment. Twenty-four patients were enrolled and 22 were evaluable. All 4 dose levels were completed and no MTD was reached. Overall, decitabine maintenance was well tolerated. Grade 3 and 4 hematological toxicities were experienced by 75% of patients, including all patients treated at the highest dose level. Nine patients completed all 8 cycles and 8 of them remain in CR. Nine patients died from relapse (n = 4), infectious complications (n = 3), and GVHD (n = 2). Most occurrences of acute GVHD were mild and resolved without interruption of treatment; 1 patient died of acute gut GVHD. Decitabine maintenance did not clearly impact the rate of chronic GVHD. Although there was a trend of increased FOXP3 expression, results were not statistically significant. In conclusion, decitabine maintenance is associated with acceptable toxicities when given in the post-allotransplantation setting. Although the MTD was not reached, the dose of 10 mg/m2 for 5 days every 6 weeks appeared to be the optimal dose rather than 15 mg/m2, where most hematological toxicities occurred.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1761-1769
Number of pages9
JournalBiology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015


  • Acute leukemia
  • Decitabine
  • Maintenance
  • Myelodysplastic syndrome
  • Stem cell transplantation


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