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Sunday 01 June 2003

Rituximab plus CHOP (R-CHOP) overcomes bcl-2--associated resistance to chemotherapy in elderly patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL).

By: Mounier N, Briere J, Gisselbrecht C, Emile JF, Lederlin P, Sebban C, Berger F, Bosly A, Morel P, Tilly H, Bouabdallah R, Reyes F, Gaulard P, Coiffier B.

Blood 2003 Jun 1;101(11):4279-84

In diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), the combination of rituximab and CHOP (cyclophosphamide, doxorubicine, vincristine, prednisone; R-CHOP) has been shown to be more effective than CHOP for the treatment of elderly patients. Bcl-2 protein expression has been associated with poor prognosis in patients with DLBCL. To establish whether or not rituximab reduces bcl-2-associated treatment failure, we studied bcl-2 protein expression and clinical outcome in patients included in the Groupe d'Etude des Lymphomes de l'Adulte LNH-98-5 trial. Patients between 60 and 80 years of age were randomized to receive 8 cycles of either CHOP or R-CHOP every 3 weeks. Of the 399 patients included, 292 with histologically proven DLBCL had material available for bcl-2 study. Tumors were considered positive when at least 50% of tumor cells expressed bcl-2 protein. There were 193 (66%) bcl-2+ patients and 99 (34%) bcl-2- patients. The response rates for R-CHOP and CHOP were, respectively, 78% and 60% (P =.01) in bcl-2+ patients and 76% and 73% (P =.7) in bcl-2- patients. At a median of 2 years of follow-up, R-CHOP was significantly associated with a better overall survival than CHOP in bcl-2+ patients (67% +/- 9% versus 48% +/- 11%, P =.004). In bcl-2- patients there was no statistically significant difference (72% +/- 12% versus 67% +/- 14%, P =.6). In addition, R-CHOP was associated with significantly better event-free survival than CHOP in bcl-2+ patients (58% +/- 10% versus 32% +/- 10%, P <.001) but not in bcl-2- patients (60% +/- 13% versus 40% +/- 15%, P =.13). Multivariate analysis confirmed the significant benefit for survival and event-free survival of R-CHOP in bcl-2+ patients. These results suggest that rituximab is able to prevent chemotherapy failure in patients with bcl-2 protein overexpression.

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