What is retinoic acid syndrome in acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL)?

Updated: May 26, 2020
  • Author: Karen Seiter, MD; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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Answer

In addition, a new toxicity, the retinoic acid syndrome, was discovered. [88] The retinoic acid syndrome results from differentiation of leukemic promyelocytic cells into mature polynuclear cells and is characterized by fever, weight gain, pleural and pericardial effusions, and respiratory distress. The syndrome occurs in approximately 25% of patients, and, in the past, was fatal in 9%. Subsequently, the early addition of chemotherapy (idarubicin and cytarabine) resulted in a reduction of deaths caused by retinoic acid syndrome.


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