Initial Low-Dose Hydroxyurea and Anagrelide Combination in Essential Thrombocythemia: Comparable Response with Lower Toxicity

Young Hoon Park, Yeung Chul Mun, Sewon Lee, Yongchel Ahn

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Background and Objectives: Essential thrombocythemia (ET) is a myeloproliferative neoplasm that overproduces platelets and is associated with life-threatening thrombosis. Medical cytoreduction either with hydroxyurea (HU) or anagrelide (AG) is widely used, but drug intolerance or resistance are major concerns. Low-dose combination of HU and AG as an alternative strategy has been explored in various studies. It showed comparable response with acceptable toxicity in second-line settings for patients who experienced side effects from prior monotherapy. In this study, we evaluated the efficacy and safety of upfront combination for ET patients. Materials and Methods: From January 2018 to June 2022, a total of 241 ET patients with intermediate to high risk were enrolled. We identified 21 patients with initial drug combinations and compared treatment outcomes and adverse events (AEs) between combination and monotherapy groups. Results: The median age was 62 years old (range, 26–87) and median platelet count was 912 × 109/L (range, 520–1720). Overall treatment response did not exhibit significant differences between the groups, although there was a trend towards a lower response rate in patients treated with AG alone at 3 months post-treatment (AG + HU, 85.7% vs. AG alone, 75.4%, p = 0.068). AEs of any grade occurred in 52.3% of the combination group, 44.3% of the HU monotherapy group, and 43.4% of the AG single group, respectively. Of note was that the HU plus AG combination group suffered a lower incidence of grade 3–4 AEs compared to the other two groups, with statistical significance (p = 0.008 for HU monotherapy vs. combination therapy and p < 0.01 for AG monotherapy vs. combination therapy). Conclusions: Our findings demonstrated that the upfront low-dose combination approach showed feasible clinical outcomes with significantly lower severe AEs compared to conventional monotherapy. These results may offer valuable insights to clinicians for future prospective investigations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2901
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 2024

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© 2024 by the authors.


  • anagrelide
  • essential thrombocythemia
  • hydroxyurea


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