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Keywords:

  • aged;
  • AML;
  • idarubicin;
  • pharmacokinetics;
  • chemotherapy

AML in the elderly is characterized by intrinsic biological features implying an enhanced chemoresistance. Intensive chemotherapy should be the treatment of choice, but the standard doses could induce unacceptable rates of aplastic deaths. We evaluated the efficacy of an induction protocol with attenuated-dose idarubicin (IDA) 8 mg/m2 for 3 d plus cytarabine and etoposide in 26 AML patients aged >60. 18 patients (69%) achieved CR, five (19%) were non-responders and three (12%) died during induction. To compare the pharmacokinetics of IDA between elderly and young patients, we assayed daily the serum level of the drug and of its metabolite (idarubicinol, IDAol) in a group of eight elderly patients who received a dose of 8 mg/m2 (group A) and in a group of nine younger AML patients treated with 12 mg/m2 (group B). The apparent terminal half-life of IDAol was significantly longer in the elderly than in the younger patients (mean half-life 59–7h versus 41–4h, P< 0–05). The values of the area under the serum concentration curve of IDAol indicated that the two patient groups received a very similar exposure to the drug despite the different doses.

In conclusion, this protocol, based on attenuated doses of IDA, compares well with the results obtained previously in similar age-matched patient series.