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BioMed Research International
Volume 2014, Article ID 637059, 7 pages
Clinical Study

Efficacy and Pharmacologic Data of Second-Generation Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor Nilotinib in BCR-ABL-Positive Leukemia Patients with Central Nervous System Relapse after Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplantation

1Department of Hematology and Oncology, University Hospital Mannheim, Theodor-Kutzer-Ufer 1-3, 68167 Mannheim, Germany
2Department of Hematology and Oncology, Medical Faculty Carl Gustav Carus, Technische Universität Dresden, Fetscherstraße 74, 01307 Dresden, Germany
3Department of Internal Medicine, Klinikum Merseburg, Weiße Mauer 52, 06217 Merseburg, Germany
4Department of Hematology, Oncology and Tumor Immunology, Campus Benjamin Franklin, Charité Berlin, Hindenburgdamm 30, 12203 Berlin, Germany
5Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, Department of Pediatrics, Technische Universität München, Kölner Platz 1, 80804 München, Germany

Received 9 March 2014; Accepted 21 May 2014; Published 15 June 2014

Academic Editor: Carlo Visco

Copyright © 2014 Mark Reinwald et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Central nervous system (CNS) involvement is a severe complication of BCR-ABL-positive leukemia after allogenic stem cell transplantation (alloSCT) associated with fatal outcome. Although second-generation tyrosine-kinase inhibitors (TKI) such as nilotinib have shown activity in systemic BCR-ABL+ disease, little data exists on their penetration and efficacy within the CNS. Four patients (3 male, 1 female; age 15–49) with meningeal relapse after alloSCT and subsequent treatment with nilotinib were identified. A total of 17 cerebrospinal fluid (csf) and serum samples were assessed for nilotinib concentration and patient outcome was recorded. Nilotinib concentrations showed a low median csf/plasma ratio of 0.53% (range 0.23–1.5%), yet pronounced clinical efficacy was observed with long-lasting responses (>1 year) in three patients. Comparison with historical data showed a trend towards superior efficacy of nilotinib versus imatinib. Despite poor csf penetration, nilotinib showed significant clinical activity in CNS relapse of BCR-ABL+ leukemias. As nilotinib has a high protein-binding affinity, the low-protein concentration in csf could translate into a relatively higher amount of free and therefore active nilotinib in csf as compared to blood, possibly explaining the observed efficacy. Thus, treatment with a 2nd generation TKI warrants further investigation and should be considered in cases of CNS relapse of BCR-ABL-positive leukemia after alloSCT.