Cognitive function and quality of life in vorinostat-treated patients after matched unrelated donor myeloablative conditioning hematopoietic cell transplantation

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Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation


Myeloablative conditioning allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) puts patients at greater risk for significant cognitive and quality of life decline compared with recipients of reduced-intensity conditioning or autologous HCT. Vorinostat, a histone deacetylase inhibitor, has been shown to have neuroprotective and neurorestorative effects in preclinical models of neurologic diseases. Thus, within the context of a myeloablative conditioning phase II clinical trial of vorinostat combined with tacrolimus and methotrexate for graft-versus-host disease prophylaxis, we conducted an ancillary study to evaluate feasibility of assessing associations between vorinostat and neurocognitive function and quality of life (ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02409134). Nine patients (mean age, 53 years; range, 36 to 66) underwent computerized neuropsychological testing (Cogstate) and completed surveys of mood (Patient Health Questionnaire-9), anxiety (General Anxiety Disorder-7), and quality of life (Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy–General). Control cohorts from a separate concurrent longitudinal study (19 autologous and 18 allogeneic HCT patients, who matched the vorinostat patients on relevant medical and demographic variables) completed the same test battery. All allogeneic patients received busulfan-based myeloablative conditioning and were transplanted with HLA-matched unrelated donors. The total neurocognitive performance score of vorinostat patients did not change significantly across the study duration (ie, baseline, day 30, day 100, and day 160). Depression, anxiety, and quality of life also did not differ significantly across time. In univariate analyses (analysis of variance), vorinostat-treated patients showed no difference in neurocognitive function or quality of life compared with autologous and allogeneic control subjects. However, when medical variables were accounted for in a linear mixed effects regression model, the total neurocognitive performance of vorinostat-treated patients was comparable with autologous control subjects. Notably, autologous control subjects performed significantly better than allogeneic control subjects (estimate,.64; standard error,.23; P ≤.01). Moreover, a smaller percentage of vorinostat-treated patients were classified as mildly, moderately, or severely impaired across neurocognitive domains as well as time points compared with both control cohorts. Thus, vorinostat may have neurorestorative or neuroprotective effects in the HCT setting. Accordingly, we recognize the need for a future, full-scale randomized controlled trial to further examine this hypothesis.


F. Hoodin is a faculty member in EMU's Department of Psychology.

*L. LaLonde and R. Kentor are EMU students.

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