Journal of Neuro-Oncology

, Volume 143, Issue 1, pp 129–136 | Cite as

Impact of overall corticosteroid exposure during chemoradiotherapy on lymphopenia and survival of glioblastoma patients

  • Caressa Y. Hui
  • Soumon Rudra
  • Sirui Ma
  • Jian L. Campian
  • Jiayi HuangEmail author
Clinical Study



Corticosteroids are commonly used to alleviate symptoms from cerebral vasogenic edema in glioblastoma (GBM) patients. This study evaluated the impact of overall corticosteroid exposure during chemoradiotherapy (CRT) on acute severe lymphopenia (ASL) and survival outcomes of GBM patients.


GBM patients treated with CRT from 2007 to 2016 were retrospectively analyzed. Overall corticosteroid exposure was estimated as the average daily dexamethasone dose during 6 weeks of CRT. ASL was defined as grade 3 or higher lymphopenia within 3 months of starting CRT. ASL rates, overall survival (OS), and progression-free survival (PFS) were analyzed using Kaplan–Meier method. Multivariable analysis (MVA) was performed using logistic and Cox regression to identify independent predictors of ASL and survival outcomes, respectively.


Of the 319 eligible patients, the median daily dexamethasone use was 2 mg/day. The high-dose dexamethasone cohort (> 2 mg/day) had significantly higher ASL and worse OS than the low-dose dexamethasone cohort: 3-month ASL of 43.7% versus 19.8% (p < 0.003) and median OS of 12.6 months versus 17.9 months (p < 0.001), respectively. On MVA, higher dexamethasone use was independently associated with higher ASL and worse OS, but not worse PFS. A subset analysis of patients with gross-total resection found that higher dexamethasone use was significantly associated with ASL, but not OS.


Increased corticosteroid use among GBM patients during CRT appears to be an independent risk factor for developing subsequent ASL. Its apparent association with worse OS may be influenced by other confounding factors and would need to be validated through prospective investigations.


Glioblastoma Corticosteroids Lymphopenia Chemoradiotherapy 



The authors would like to acknowledge Dan Mullen and Sandra Fergus for their tremendous support in data management and acquisition of radiation dosimetric data.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

J.H. reports research support from Pfizer and Cantex, personal fees from Viewray, outside the submitted work. J.L.C reports research support from NeoImmuneTech Inc. and Incyte Corporation, outside the submitted work. The remaining authors declare no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was waived for this study after evaluation of methodology by Institutional Review Board.

Supplementary material

11060_2019_3146_MOESM1_ESM.docx (39 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 39 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Caressa Y. Hui
    • 1
  • Soumon Rudra
    • 2
  • Sirui Ma
    • 2
  • Jian L. Campian
    • 3
  • Jiayi Huang
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Saint Louis University School of MedicineSaint LouisUSA
  2. 2.Department of Radiation OncologyWashington University School of MedicineSt. LouisUSA
  3. 3.Division of OncologyWashington University School of MedicineSt. LouisUSA

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