Dexamethasone versus prednisone for induction therapy in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia: a systematic review and meta-analysis Academic Article uri icon

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  • This systematic review and meta-analysis compared the efficacy and toxicity of dexamethasone (DEX) versus prednisone (PRED) for induction therapy in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). We searched biomedical literature databases and conference proceedings for randomized controlled trials comparing DEX and PRED during induction therapy for childhood ALL. A total of eight studies were eligible for inclusion in this meta-analysis. DEX, in comparison with PRED, reduced events (that is, death from any cause, refractory or relapsed leukemia, or second malignancy; risk ratio (RR) 0.80; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.68-0.94) and central nervous system relapse (RR 0.53; 95% CI, 0.44-0.65), but did not alter bone marrow relapse (RR 0.90; 95% CI, 0.69-1.18) or overall mortality (RR 0.91; 95% CI, 0.76-1.09). Patients receiving DEX had a higher risk of mortality during induction (RR 2.31; 95% CI, 1.46-3.66), neuro-psychiatric adverse events (RR 4.55; 95% CI, 2.45-8.46) and myopathy (RR 7.05; 95% CI, 3.00-16.58). There was no statistically significant difference in the risk of osteonecrosis, sepsis, fungal infection, diabetes or pancreatitis. DEX in induction therapy for children with ALL is more efficacious than PRED. However, DEX is also associated with more toxicity, and currently it remains unclear whether short-term superiority of DEX will also result in better overall survival.


  • Teuffel, O
  • Kuster, SP
  • Hunger, SP
  • Conter, V
  • Hitzler, J
  • Ethier, M-C
  • Shah, PS
  • Beyene, Joseph
  • Sung, L

publication date

  • August 2011