Disparities in neurotoxicity risk and outcomes among pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia patients

Olga A. Taylor, Austin L. Brown, Julienne Brackett, Zoann E. Dreyer, Ida Ki Moore, Pauline Mitby, Mary C. Hooke, Marilyn J. Hockenberry, Philip J. Lupo, Michael E. Scheurer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Purpose: Methotrexate chemotherapy can be associated with neurologic complications during therapy and long-term neurologic deficits. This study evaluated demographic and clinical factors associated with incidence of methotrexate neurotoxicity and described the impact of neurotoxicity on acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) therapy in pediatric patients. Experimental Design: Patients were enrolled between 2012 and 2017 from three pediatric cancer treatment centers in the United States. Medical records for suspected cases of methotrexate neurotoxicity, defined as an acute neurologic event following methotrexate therapy, were reviewed. Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate the association between race/ethnicity and methotrexate neurotoxicity. Multivariable linear regression models compared treatment outcomes between patients with and without methotrexate neurotoxicity. Results: Of the 280 newly diagnosed patients enrolled, 39 patients (13.9%) experienced methotrexate neurotoxicity. Compared with non-Hispanic whites, Hispanic patients experienced the greatest risk of methotrexate neurotoxicity (adjusted HR, 2.43; 95% CI, 1.06-5.58) after accounting for sex, age at diagnosis, BMI Z-score at diagnosis, and ALL risk stratification. Patients who experienced a neurotoxic event received an average of 2.25 fewer doses of intrathecal methotrexate. Six of the 39 cases of neurotoxicity (15.4%) experienced relapse during the study period, compared with 13 of the 241 (2.1%) patients without neurotoxicity (P = 0.0038). Conclusions: Hispanic ethnicity was associated with increased risk of methotrexate neurotoxicity, which was associated with treatment modifications and relapse. Understanding the mechanism and predictors of methotrexate neurotoxicity is important to improving treatment outcomes in pediatric ALL.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5012-5017
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 15 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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