, Volume 67, Issue 13, pp 1869-1881
Date: 14 Sep 2012

Lenalidomide in Myelodysplastic Syndrome and Multiple Myeloma

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The use of thalidomide is limited by adverse effects of sedation, constipation, neuropathy and thromboembolism. In order to discover more potent and less toxic immunomodulators than thalidomide, its chemical structure was modified and lenalidomide was formed.

Lenalidomide is approved by the US FDA for the treatment of patients with low-risk myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) with deletion 5q cytogenetic abnormality. Two studies and a case report have evaluated lenalidomide in these MDS patients and showed significantly higher cytogenetic responses and durable red blood cell transfusion independence. Lenalidomide should be the drug of choice for patients with low and intermediate-1 risk MDS (based on the International Prognostic Scoring System) with chromosome 5q31 deletion with or without other karyotype abnormalities.

Lenalidomide, in combination with dexamethasone, has been compared with dexamethasone alone in patients with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma (MM) in two studies (MM-009 in North America and MM-010 in Europe, Israel and Australia). In these two phase III trials, lenalidomide demonstrated impressive (58–59%) response rates with dexamethasone. Lenalidomide has also been shown to overcome thalidomide resistance in MM patients. Therefore, the lenalidomide plus dexamethasone regimen provides another treatment option, in addition to first line MM treatment regimens of bortezomib, thalidomide or high-dose dexamethasone, for the treatment of relapsed or refractory MM.

Lenalidomide does not produce significant sedation, constipation or neuropathy, but does lead to significant myelosuppression, unlike thalidomide. The prescribing information has a black box warning for risk of myelosuppression, deep vein thrombosis/pulmonary embolism and teratogenicity. Administration of lenalidomide is recommended at a starting dose of 10 mg/day orally for deletion 5q in MDS patients. Significant risk of myelosuppression may lead to dose reduction in the majority of these patients. Clinical trials of relapsed and refractory MM have shown that lenalidomide is clinically efficacious at a dosage of 25 mg/day when administered in combination with dexamethasone. Lenalidomide should be continued until disease progression in both MDS and MM patients.