Chemotherapy and HAART to Treat AIDS-related Primary Brain Lymphoma

The safety and scientific validity of this study is the responsibility of the study sponsor and investigators. Listing a study does not mean it has been evaluated by the U.S. Federal Government. Know the risks and potential benefits of clinical studies and talk to your health care provider before participating. Read our disclaimer for details. Identifier: NCT00267865
Recruitment Status : Recruiting
First Posted : December 21, 2005
Last Update Posted : December 5, 2018
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC) ( National Cancer Institute (NCI) )

December 21, 2005
December 21, 2005
December 5, 2018
December 16, 2005
July 31, 2019   (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Survival; without recurrent lymphoma or severe cognitive problems at two years [ Time Frame: 2 years ]
number of patients alive at 2 years without recurrent brain lymphoma or severe neurocognitive defects
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Complete list of historical versions of study NCT00267865 on Archive Site
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Chemotherapy and HAART to Treat AIDS-related Primary Brain Lymphoma
AIDS-Related Primary Central Nervous System Lymphoma: A Phase II Pilot Study of High-Dose Intravenous Methotrexate With Rituximab Leucovorin Rescue and Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy

This study will investigate the use of chemotherapy plus highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in patients with AIDS-related primary brain lymphoma. None of the drugs used in this study are experimental, but chemotherapy plus HAART has not been established as a standard treatment in patients with AIDS. The chemotherapy regimen used in this study (see below) was chosen because it may be less toxic to immune cells called T-lymphocytes than most drug treatments for lymphoma.

People with AIDS 18 and older and have primary brain lymphoma may be eligible for this study. Candidates are screened with a medical history and physical examination, MRI, CT and PET scans, cerebrospinal fluid studies, brain biopsy at tumor sites, if possible, electrocardiogram and blood tests.

Participants undergo six 2-week "induction treatment" cycles of HAART plus chemotherapy with methotrexate, rituximab and leucovorin, followed by two 4-week "consolidation" treatment cycles using HAART, methotrexate and leucovorin, and then HAART alone. Rituximab is given by intravenous (IV, through a vein) day 1 of each cycle. Also on day 1 IV fluids are given to lower acidity in the urine to protect the kidneys from the methotrexate. On day 2, methotrexate is infused through a vein over 4 hours. Starting 24 hours after initiation of the methotrexate infusion, leucovorin is given every 3 to 6 hours (first IV and then possibly by mouth) until the drug decreases to a target level in the blood. HAART is begun as soon as possible. The specific HAART regimen for each patient is determined individually. All patients are hospitalized the first week of every 2-week treatment cycle for safety monitoring. In addition to HAART and chemotherapy, patients undergo the following tests and procedures:

  • Intellectual functioning: Before starting treatment, patients are tested for their ability to understand basic concepts and coordination in order to be able to evaluate how the brain lymphoma affects thinking and concentration. After the lymphoma appears to have resolved, more formal and intensive tests are done. The intensive tests are repeated each year, and shorter, interim tests are done about every 6 months. Also, a specialist periodically monitors patients' understanding of HAART and the importance of this therapy.
  • Blood tests: Blood is drawn every day during hospitalizations to measure methotrexate levels and to evaluate kidney and liver function and blood counts. Blood is also drawn before starting therapy, when the lymphoma disappears, 6 months after completing treatment, and any time it appears that the lymphoma may have recurred to test for Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), a virus that is almost always present in AIDS-related primary brain lymphoma.
  • Imaging tests: Patients undergo magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) scans periodically to monitor the effects of treatment on the lymphoma. MRI scans are done after the 2nd, 4th, 6th, and 8th treatments, then every 2 months for three times, every 3 months for six times, every 6 months for four times, and then every year for 5 years, or sooner if there is a concern about the brain. PET scans are done after the first cycle, after the MRI suggests the lymphoma is gone, and then yearly.
  • Lumbar puncture (spinal tap): This test is done to look for EBV in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Under local anesthetic, a needle is inserted in the space between the bones in the lower back where the CSF circulates below the spinal cord and a small amount of fluid is collected through the needle. This test is done at the same times as the blood tests for EBV.
  • Eye examinations: Patients' eyes are examined periodically because brain lymphoma can sometimes spread to the eye and because some people with AIDS-related primary brain lymphoma are at risk of certain eye infections.

Background: AIDS-related primary central nervous system lymphoma (AR-PCNSL) is an Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-driven lymphoproliferative process that typically results in death within a few months. Essentially all of the cases are immunoblastic CD20+ tumors, and occur once the CD4+ cells have fallen to below 50 cells/mm^3. Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) can result in immune reconstitution that decreases the risk of AR-PCNSL. However, a subset of HIV-infected patients still develops ARPCNSL, often because they are unaware that they are HIV infected, or they do not take HAART. Treatment options for such patients are limited. In the non-AIDS setting, chemotherapy has become the standard of care for primary central nervous system lymphoma (PCNSL) and late neurocognitive decline consequent to radiotherapy can be avoided by such approaches. In the pre-HAART era, AR-PCNSL was generally treated with whole brain radiotherapy, however death due to recurrent lymphoma or to other AIDS complications occurred prior to the potential manifestations of late occurring radiation-related neurotoxicity. Radiation-sparing approaches have not been studied in AR-PCNSL in the HAART era, where advances in antiretroviral therapy have made curative intent chemotherapy feasible for most patients with HIV infection.

Objectives: The primary objective of this study is to estimate the fraction of patients with AR-PCNSL receiving experimental treatment consisting of HAART, combined with rituximab, high-dose methotrexate and leucovorin (R-HD-MTX) who are alive and without recurrent lymphoma or severe cognitive problems at two years. .

Eligibility: HIV-infected, age 18 years or older, AR-PCSNL that has not previously been treated, and be able to give informed consent or have a durable power of attorney who can provide informed consent, HIV profile that makes them likely to respond to HAART. There are a number of other specific inclusion and exclusion criteria, in part to exclude patients who would be unlikely to tolerate the therapy.

Design: Phase II pilot study investigating R-HD-MTX given with leucovorin rescue and HAART as a treatment for AR-PCNSL. Evaluation will include quantitative measurement of lymphocyte subsets, quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) of HIV and EBV viral loads (including both blood and cerebrospinal fluid in the case of EBV) to assess immune response and anti-viral effects. Tumor evaluation with brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and brain fluoro-2-deoxy-d-glucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET scans) will be used for staging and response assessment. Longitudinal neuropsychologic testing after complete responses are documented will serve to evaluate neurocognitive parameters post therapy.

a separate cohort for additional secondary endpoints.

Phase 2
Allocation: Non-Randomized
Intervention Model: Single Group Assignment
Masking: None (Open Label)
Primary Purpose: Treatment
  • Lymphoma-AIDS-Related
  • Brain Neoplasm
  • Drug: Methotrexate
    6000 mg/m2 will be administered by intravenous infusion over 4 hours after confirming that the recipient patient s urine pH is within the range greater than or equal to 7 to less than or equal to 8, and urine output is greater than or equal to 100 mL/hour.
  • Drug: Rituximab
    375 mg/m2 IV day 1 of each cycle prior to administration of high-dose methotrexate
  • Drug: Leucovorin
    Leucovorin calcium doses will be administered orally or by short IV infusion over 15 minutes
Experimental: A
Induction treatment cycles with rituximab, high-dose methotrexate and leucovorin will be administered every 2 weeks for 6 cycles. Two additional consolidation cycles of high-dose methotrexate without rituximab will be administered at 4 weeks and 8 weeks following completion of the combined therapy.
  • Drug: Methotrexate
  • Drug: Rituximab
  • Drug: Leucovorin

*   Includes publications given by the data provider as well as publications identified by Identifier (NCT Number) in Medline.
July 31, 2021
July 31, 2019   (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)

Positive HIV serology (previous records acceptable)

  • Diagnosis of Primary Central Nervous System Lymphoma
  • Confirmed histopathologic diagnosis by NCI Laboratory of Pathology
  • If tissue diagnosis is not feasible for any reason, such as undue risk to the patient to acquire tissue diagnosis, the following will be accepted as confirmed AR-PCNSL diagnosis:
  • Positive brain FDG-PET and
  • EBV detected in the CSF using PCR
  • Age 18 years or greater
  • ECOG performance less than or equal to 0-4
  • Ability to understand and willing to provide informed consent
  • If patient unable to understand informed consent, a previously designated durable power of attorney for healthcare or an individual with legal authority may substitute in this capacity
  • Assignment of a durable power of attorney for healthcare if not already done


  • Prior therapy for CNS lymphoma
  • Steroids not an exclusion
  • Evidence of lymphoma outside of the central nervous system
  • Ocular involvement will not exclude
  • Multidrug resistant HIV not amenable to long-term suppression based on either or both:
  • Clinical history of poor adherence to multiple antiretroviral drugs deemed sufficient to render effective HIV control unattainable;
  • HIV mutational analysis (genotyping and/or phenotyping) that reveals high-level resistance to more than 1 class of anti-HIV drugs such that a combination regimen comprised of agents from at least two drug classes can not be devised to suppress HIV long-term.
  • Refusal to adhere to HAART
  • Concurrent malignancy other than Kaposi sarcoma, resectable squamous cell or basal cell skin cancer, or T1 anal cancer amenable to surgical resection.
  • Heart failure, Class IV by New York Heart Association criteria
  • Chronic Liver Disease, Child-Pugh class B or C


  • Refusal to practice contraception during chemotherapy.
  • Any condition or set of circumstances that the Principal Investigator or Protocol Chair interprets as creating undue risk to the patient by participating on this study or would make the patient unlikely to comply with the study.
Sexes Eligible for Study: All
18 Years to 99 Years   (Adult, Older Adult)
Contact: Anaida Widell (301) 451-3694
Contact: Robert Yarchoan, M.D. (240) 760-6075
United States
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National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC) ( National Cancer Institute (NCI) )
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
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Principal Investigator: Robert Yarchoan, M.D. National Cancer Institute (NCI)
National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC)
June 4, 2018

ICMJE     Data element required by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors and the World Health Organization ICTRP