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Immune reconstitution during maintenance therapy in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, relation to co-existing infection.

  • El-Chennawi, Farha A
  • Al-Tonbary, Youssef A
  • Mossad, Youssef M
  • Ahmed, Mona A
Published Article
Hematology (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
Publication Date
Aug 01, 2008
DOI: 10.1179/102453308X316086
PMID: 18796245


Immunosuppression is a major side effect of cancer chemotherapy. The process of immune reconstitution can be dissimilar according to the nature of the disease, type and doses of drugs, and age of the patients. Recently, several studies have examined immune reconstitution in children and young adults after intensive chemotherapy for solid tumours or stem cell transplantation. The aim of the present study is to evaluate immune reconstitution (cellular and humoral) in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia during the maintenance phase of therapy and to correlate between the complicating infections and the abnormalities in immune system during reconstitution. To achieve this goal, 36 children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (24 females and 12 males) in the maintenance phase of therapy with 12 healthy children of matched age and sex served as a control group were recruited in this study. The patients were taken consecutively from the Hematology/Oncology Outpatient Clinic of Mansoura University Children's Hospital (MUCH). They were subjected to thorough history taking, clinical examination and laboratory investigations in the form of: complete blood count, serum creatinine, liver function tests and evaluation of the immune system by estimation of CD3, CD4, CD8, CD19 and CD56 (cellular immunity) by flow cytometry and immunoglobulins A, M and G (humoral immunity) at the first and the third month of maintenance therapy. The results of the study documented presence and persistence of leucopenia and lymphopenia during maintenance therapy with decreased medians of CD3, CD4 and CD8 from the first to the third month of therapy and in comparison to the control group. The other markers CD19, CD56, IgA, IgM, IgG and CD4/CD8 ratio showed increasing median from the first to the third month of therapy. Also we detect a significant correlation between infection and CD19 and serum IgM at the first month and between infection and CD19, IgM and CD4/CD8 ratio at the third month of therapy. In conclusion, persistent immunosuppression is documented in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia during maintenance therapy. Reconstitution of B lymphocytes and Natural killer cells occurs early while T cell reconstitution shows delayed recovery of both T helper and T suppressor cells. Immunosupression during maintenance therapy has no major clinical impact in terms of increased incidence or severity of systemic infections.

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