AbstractBACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Competitive immunoglobulin/T-cell receptor polymerase-chain reaction (PCR) analysis with fluorescent detection is a rapid, cheap and reproducible method for quantifying minimal residual disease (MRD), which is well adapted to the recognition of high-risk childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). We aimed at defining whether flow cytometry (FC) techniques can bypass limitations of PCR for MRD determination. DESIGN AND METHODS: We analyzed 140 remission samples from 91 patients using both competitive PCR amplification of antigen-receptor genes and four-color FC identification of leukemia immunophenotype. These methods were chosen with the aim of detecting at least 0.1% blasts. RESULTS: MRD was measured using both PCR and FC methods in 123 samples and the two methods provided concordant results in 119 of them (97%). Moreover, three out of the four discordant results appeared minor since MRD was detectable by both methods, but at different levels. In 12 of 13 samples from nine patients, mainly infants with early CD10- and/or t(4;11) B-cell ALL and children with immature T-cell ALL, MRD could be determined using FC whereas PCR failed. Conversely, FC methods were unfeasible due to inappropriate leukemia immunophenotype in three additional children (including two with T-cell ALL) for whom PCR successfully provided MRD results. INTERPRETATION AND CONCLUSIONS: The MRD results provided by FC techniques were highly concordant with those of competitive PCR. Moreover, the applicability of FC appeared higher in certain ALL subsets, although the appropriateness of this technique in terms of outcome prediction remains to be demonstrated.
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Vol. 90 No. 11 (2005): November, 2005 : Comparative Studies
Ferrata Storti Foundation, Pavia, Italy
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