Retrospective study of the digestive tract mucositis derived from myeloablative and non-myeloablative/reduced-intensity conditionings with busulfan in hematopoietic cell transplantation patient


Busulfan is a major component of chemotherapy conditioning in hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT). This alkylating agent is highly toxic at myeloablative doses, exposing HCT patients to risks of mortality. Non-myeloablative (NMA) and reduced-intensity conditioning (RIC) using busulfan have shown impaired toxicity. However, the toxicity of NMA/RIC in the digestive tract is poorly described. This study aimed to characterize the mucositis in the oral cavity (OM), oropharynx/esophagus, and gastrointestinal tract derived from conditionings with myeloablative and non-myeloablative doses of busulfan. We retrospectively retrieved clinical data of HCT patients (n = 100) who underwent myeloablative conditioning (MAC) or NMA/RIC with busulfan. Frequency and time duration of mucositis in the oral cavity and oropharynx/esophagus, diarrhea, and prescription of total parenteral nutrition (TPN) and opioids were also collected. OM severity (p = 0.009) and time duration of mucositis in oropharynx/esophagus (p = 0.022) were frequently higher in MAC than NMA/RIC. A myeloablative dose of busulfan was a risk factor for OM grade ≥ 2 (OR = 4.8, p = 0.002) and for mucositis in oropharynx/esophagus ≥ 5 days (OR = 2.64, p = 0.035). A longer duration of mucositis in the oropharynx/esophagus was also associated with an increase in the prescription of opioids (OR = 7.10, p < 0.001).Overall survival (OS) in MAC was significantly higher than that in NMA/RIC (p = 0.017). No variables related to mucositis interfere significantly in OS. In conclusion, myelosuppression in busulfan-based regimens are predisposed to a high risk for severe OM and to prolonged mucositis in the oropharynx/esophagus.

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We thank the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP, Proc. no. 2016/03650–4) and AmigoH for their financial support.

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Correspondence to Fernanda P. Eduardo.

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Eduardo, F.P., Bezinelli, L.M., Gobbi, M. et al. Retrospective study of the digestive tract mucositis derived from myeloablative and non-myeloablative/reduced-intensity conditionings with busulfan in hematopoietic cell transplantation patient. Support Care Cancer 27, 839–848 (2019).

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  • Oral mucositis
  • Gastrointestinal mucositis
  • Hematopoietic cell transplantation
  • Busulfan