Minimal residual disease (MRD) by multiparameter flow cytometry (MFC) is the most effective tool to define a deep response in multiple myeloma (MM). We conducted an MRD correlative study of the EMN02/HO95 MM phase III trial in newly diagnosed MM patients achieving a suspected complete response before maintenance and every 6 months during maintenance.
Patients received high-dose melphalan (HDM) versus bortezomib-melphalan-prednisone (VMP) intensification, followed by bortezomib-lenalidomide-dexamethasone (VRd) versus no consolidation, and lenalidomide maintenance. Bone marrow (BM) samples were processed in 3 European laboratories, applying EuroFlow-based MFC protocols (8 colors, 2 tubes) with 10-4-10-5 sensitivity. At enrollment in the MRD correlative study, 76% (244/321) of patients were MRD-negative. In the intention-to-treat analysis, after a median follow-up of 75 months, 5-year progression-free survival was 66% in MRD-negative versus 31% in MRD-positive patients (HR 0.39; p<0.001), 5-year overall survival was 86% versus 69%, respectively (HR 0.41; p<0.001). MRD negativity was associated with reduced risk of progression or death in all subgroups, including ISS-III (HR 0.37and high-risk FISH patients (HR 0.38;). In the 1-year maintenance MRD population, 42% of MRD-positive patients at pre-maintenance became MRD-negative after lenalidomide exposure.
In conclusion, MRD by MFC is a strong prognostic factor. Lenalidomide maintenance further improved MRD-negativity rate.