Leukine (sargramostim) colony stimulating factor

Neutrophil in a field of blood cells (NCI)

by Ross Bonander

Leukine (sargramostim) is one of three man-made colony-stimulating factors (CSF) used to promote the growth and proliferation of neutrophils (white blood cells) from bone marrow progenitor cells in people whose immune system or marrow function is compromised.

Drug profile

  • Class: Colony-stimulating factor
  • Treatment type: Symptom management
  • US approval: Prior to 1991
  • Synonyms: GM-CSF
  • FDA Use-in-Pregnancy Rating: Category C

What it's effective for and why

Leukine is used to treat myelosuppression in the aftermath of bone marrow transplants, and to minimize either myelosuppression following chemotherapy or to minimize the course of febrile neutropenia. It is also indicated following induction chemotherapy for acute myeloid leukemia. Leukine is only indicated for people aged 55 or older.

Side effects: Overview

While each person will have his or her own experiences receiving Leukine, the most commonly reported side effects include hypotension, hypertension, flushing, dyspnea, diarrhea, fevers, nausea and vomiting, headache, rash, thrombocytopenia, and bone pain. Furthermore, in some cases people on Leukine have experienced a progression myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS, also known as pre-leukemia). Patients are strongly encouraged to report all side effects to their doctor or oncology team at the time of onset.


  • Boyiadzis, Michael M. et al. Hematology-Oncology Therapy. 2007. New York: McGraw Hill, Medical Publishing Division.
  • Perry, Michael C, Editor. Companion Handbook to the Chemotherapy Sourcebook. 1999. Baltimore; Williams & Wilkins.
  • Drugs.com: Leukine

Significant studies relating to Leukine


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