Association between Busulfan Exposure and Outcome in Children Receiving Intravenous Busulfan before Hematologic Stem Cell Transplantation

Imke H. Bartelink*, Robert G.M. Bredius, Svetlana V. Belitser, Marit M. Suttorp, Marc Bierings, Catherijne A.J. Knibbe, Maarten Egeler, Arjan C. Lankester, Atoine C.G. Egberts, Juliette Zwaveling, Jaap Jan Boelens

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Busulfan, combined with therapeutic drug monitoring-guided dosing, is associated with higher event-free survival (EFS) rates due to fewer graft failures/relapses and lower toxicity. The optimal target area under the curve (AUC) and dosing schedule of intravenous busulfan in children undergoing hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) remain unclear, however. We conducted a retrospective analysis of the association between busulfan exposure and clinical outcome in 102 children age 0.2 to 21 years who received busulfan 1 or 4 times daily before undergoing HSCT (46 malignant and 56 nonmalignant indications). EFS and overall survival after a median of 2 years of follow-up were 68% and 72%, respectively. EFS was optimal when the exposure of busulfan (AUC) was 78 mg*h/L (95% confidence interval = 74 to 82 mg*h/L). Acute graft-versus-host disease (aGVHD) grade II-IV occurred more frequently with greater busulfan exposure. The addition of melphalan was an independent risk factor; melphalan use combined with high busulfan exposure (AUC > 74 mg*h/L) was associated with high incidences of aGVHD (58%), veno-occlusive disease (66%), and mucositis grade III-IV (26%). Dosing frequency (1 or 4 times daily) was not related to any outcome. In conclusion, dose targeting of busulfan to a narrow therapeutic range was found to increase EFS in children. Adding melphalan to optimal busulfan exposure is associated with a high incidence of toxicity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-241
Number of pages11
JournalBiology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2009

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