BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Elderly patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) have a less favorable outcome, which has been related, among other factors, to multidrug resistance (MDR) phenotypes. DESIGN AND METHODS: Freshly obtained erythrocyte-lysed bone marrow samples from 150 elderly patients (> 65 years) with de novo AML and 30 younger AML patients were analyzed using a 4-color immunofluorescence technique for quantitative expression of proteins associated with apoptosis (bcl-2, bax, APO2.7) and MDR (P-gp, MRP, LRP) in 3 blast cell subpopulations, defined according to their maturation stage. RESULTS: Although a homogeneous CD34+ blast cell population was more frequent in the elderly patients, (25% vs 7%, p=0.02), no statistically significant differences were detected between the two age groups in the expression of either apoptosis- or MDR-associated proteins, except for slightly higher quantities of LRP protein in the more immature CD34+ blast cell subset in the elderly AML cases (p=0.04). Interestingly, when different blast cell populations were compared, immature (CD34+) blast cells were characterized by higher levels of bcl-2 in both age groups and lower levels of APO2.7 in the elderly group. In addition, higher P-gp levels were found in CD34+ blast cells than in CD34-- ones in elderly AML patients. Reactivity for LRP was low in both elderly and younger patients. INTERPRETATION AND CONCLUSIONS: In summary, our results suggest that the higher resistance to chemotherapy observed in elderly AML patients could be related to a higher incidence of cases with a CD34+ homogeneous blast cell population, since these blast cells frequently display a more pronounced anti-apoptotic and MDR1 phenotype.
Vol. 90 No. 1 (2005): January, 2005 : Articles
Ferrata Storti Foundation, Pavia, Italy
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