Key Points

  • Patients with Myc-driven DLBCL had less favorable outcomes after EPOCH, and vorinostat had no impact on HIV or chemotherapy’s efficacy.

  • Permitting 1 cycle of systemic treatment before EPOCH-based chemotherapy facilitated protocol enrollment without worsening outcomes.

Abstract

EPOCH (etoposide, prednisone, vincristine, cyclophosphamide, and doxorubicin) is a preferred regimen for HIV-non-Hodgkin lymphomas (HIV-NHLs), which are frequently Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) positive or human herpesvirus type-8 (HHV-8) positive. The histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor vorinostat disrupts EBV/HHV-8 latency, enhances chemotherapy-induced cell death, and may clear HIV reservoirs. We performed a randomized phase 2 study in 90 patients (45 per study arm) with aggressive HIV-NHLs, using dose-adjusted EPOCH (plus rituximab if CD20+), alone or with 300 mg vorinostat, administered on days 1 to 5 of each cycle. Up to 1 prior cycle of systemic chemotherapy was allowed. The primary end point was complete response (CR). In 86 evaluable patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL; n = 61), plasmablastic lymphoma (n = 15), primary effusion lymphoma (n = 7), unclassifiable B-cell NHL (n = 2), and Burkitt lymphoma (n = 1), CR rates were 74% vs 68% for EPOCH vs EPOCH-vorinostat (P = .72). Patients with a CD4+ count <200 cells/mm3 had a lower CR rate. EPOCH-vorinostat did not eliminate HIV reservoirs, resulted in more frequent grade 4 neutropenia and thrombocytopenia, and did not affect survival. Overall, patients with Myc+ DLBCL had a significantly lower EFS. A low diagnosis-to-treatment interval (DTI) was also associated with inferior outcomes, whereas preprotocol therapy had no negative impact. In summary, EPOCH had broad efficacy against highly aggressive HIV-NHLs, whereas vorinostat had no benefit; patients with Myc-driven DLBCL, low CD4, and low DTI had less favorable outcomes. Permitting preprotocol therapy facilitated accruals without compromising outcomes. This trial was registered at www.clinicaltrials.gov as #NCT0119384.

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