Conservative treatment of L-asparaginase-associated lipid abnormalities in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia

Hofit Cohen*, Bella Bielorai, Dror Harats, Amos Toren, Orit Pinhas-Hamiel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective. To determine the incidence and clinical consequences of asparaginase-associated lipid abnormalities in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Methods. Sixty-five newly diagnosed children and adolescents aged 0.4-21 years with ALL or lymphoblastic lymphoma were retrospectively evaluated for lipid abnormalities. They were treated according to the ALLIC-BFM 2002 protocol between 2002 and 2005. Fasting cholesterol levels were measured in all patients and triglycerides (TG) in 42/65 patients. Results. Prior to treatment, mean cholesterol level was 149 ± 50 mg/dl, and increased to maximal level 274 ± 124 mg/dl during treatment. Mean TG level during treatment was 459 ± 526 mg/dl (range 54-3,009). Twelve patients (28%) had TG levels <200 mg/dl, 18 (43%) had 200-400 mg/dl, 3 (7%) had 400-600 mg/dl, 4 (10%) between 600 and 1,000 mg/dl, and 5 (12%) patients had >1,000 mg/dl. No association was found between TG levels and age or gender. One of the 12 patients with TG >400 mg/dl developed left saggital sinus thrombosis and left frontal lobe infarct. TG level at the time of the event was 2,640 mg/dl. None of the five patients with TG levels >1,000 mg/dl developed pancreatitis. Children with TG levels between 400 and 600 mg/dl were treated by fasting. Fibrates and heparin were added to those with levels >600 mg/dl. Lipid abnormalities normalized in all children upon completion of asparaginase treatment. Conclusions. Abnormalities of lipid profile in children with ALL during asparaginase therapy are relatively common. We recommend measuring TG before and during asparaginase treatment. Initiation of conservative treatment could prevent further increase of TG and decrease the risk of potential complications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)703-706
Number of pages4
JournalPediatric Blood and Cancer
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2010


  • Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia
  • Asparaginase
  • Lipid metabolism
  • Triglycerides


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