Molecular Responses after Switching from a Standard-Dose Twice-Daily Nilotinib Regimen to a Reduced-Dose Once-Daily Schedule in Patients with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia: A Real Life Observational Study (NILO-RED)

Delphine Rea, Jean-Michel Cayuela, Stephanie Dulucq and Gabriel Etienne



Standard dosing regimen for the BCR-ABL1 tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) nilotinib in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is 300mg twice daily (BID) in the frontline setting and 400mg BID in the 2nd line setting or beyond. Patients (pts) are instructed to fast within 2 hours before and 1 hour after medication intake due to significant high-fat food effects on drug bioavailability. On-label dose adjustments to a lower-dose once-daily (QD) regimen are recommended solely in case of significant toxicity.

Study goal

The primary aim of our observational two-center study was to ask whether nilotinib-treated adult CML pts were able to maintain major molecular responses (MMR) within 1 year after conversion to a more convenient nilotinib QD regimen at reduced doses, regardless of reasons for tapering nilotinib. Pts with minor transcripts or a history of blast crisis or allogeneic stem cell transplantation were excluded.


Eighty one pts in chronic phase were identified and included and results from the first 67 pts with a follow-up of at least 12 months after the switch to the once-daily dose-reduced nilotinib regimen are presented. Median age at study entry was 52 years (range: 19-82). There were 25 males (37.3%) and the Sokal score was low, intermediate, high or unknown in 43.3%, 37.3%, 13.4% and 6% of pts, respectively. All pts had major-type BCR-ABL1 transcripts. Nilotinib was started as 1st line TKI at 300mg BID in 68.6% of pts and as 2nd or subsequent line TKI at 400 or 300 mg BID in 31.4% of pts due to intolerance, warning, resistance or absence of a deep molecular response on prior therapy. Median duration of nilotinib prior switching to a reduced QD dosing was 29 months (range: 1-94) and median duration of MMR was 25 months (range: 3-212). Primary reason for the switch to a reduced QD nilotinib dosing was non-serious adverse events in 37.3% of pts and improvement in pts convenience in 62.7% of pts. Nilotinib was reduced down to 450mg QD, 400mg QD or 300mg QD in 86.6%, 10.4% and 3% of pts, respectively. A 2nd dose reduction from 450mg to 300mg QD was performed in 30 pts after a median time of 18 months (range: 4-37). The median duration of low-dose nilotinib QD was 24 months (5-54). No severe tolerance issues were encountered and no ischemic cardiovascular events occurred. Eleven pts stopped nilotinib due to treatment-free remission attempt (n=10) or persistent adverse event (n=1). All pts were alive at last follow-up.

Evolution of molecular responses

At baseline, the number of pts in MMR, MR4 and ≥MR4.5 was 9 (13.4%), 17 (25.4%) and 41 (61.2%), respectively and 32 pts (47.8%) had undetectable BCR-ABL1 transcripts. Median BCR-ABL1/ABL1 % IS was 0.006% (range: 0.0007-0.063) and median ABL1 copy number in pts with undetectable transcripts was 87259 (range: 36018-921339). Only 2 pts treated with 1st line nilotinib lost MMR 4 and 6 months after QD dose reduction of nilotinib with BCR-ABL1/ABL1 % IS at 0.13 and 0.11%, respectively. Both pts spontaneously regained MMR 4 months later without any treatment modification. Kaplan-Meier analysis of survival without unconfirmed MMR loss was 97% (95% CI: 92.9-100) at 12 months and analysis by molecular response category showed that none of the pts who were at least in MR4 at baseline lost MMR (Figure 1). At last follow-up on low-dose QD nilotinib, the number of pts in MMR, MR4 and ≥MR4.5 was 4 (6.3%), 11 (16.4%) and 52 (77.6%), respectively and 37 pts had undetectable transcripts (55.2%). Median BCR-ABL1/ABL1 % IS was 0.0035% (range: 0.00025-0.058) and median ABL1 copy number in pts with undetectable transcripts was 96000 (range: 23285-472000).

Ten pts in long-lasting deep molecular response stopped nilotinib without further treatment after a median duration of TKI and of nilotinib of 60 months (range: 50-149) and 56 months (range: 42-87), respectively. Their follow-up after nilotinib discontinuation was 18 months (range: 5-33). Only 1 of them lost MMR and restarted therapy 5 months later while the others remained treatment-free.


Switching to a nilotinib QD regimen at reduced doses as maintenance therapy after achievement of a MMR on standard-dose nilotinib BID schedule is feasible and safe in chronic phase CML pts regardless of prior treatment history and does not compromise the anti-leukemic efficacy of nilotinib. Our results may pave the way for clinical trials aiming at systematic avoidance of overtreatment and improvement of pts convenience in treatment with nilotinib.

Disclosures Rea: Pfizer: Honoraria; BMS: Consultancy, Honoraria; Novartis: Consultancy, Honoraria; Incyte: Honoraria. Cayuela: BMS: Honoraria; Novartis: Honoraria. Etienne: BMS: Speakers Bureau; Incyte: Speakers Bureau; Novartis: Consultancy, Research Funding.

  • * Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.