Cancer 2003 Jan;97(1):105-13
Childhood Leukemia Investigation Prague, Prague, Czech Republic.
Background: The translocation t(12;21)(p13;q22), which produces the TEL/AML1 fusion gene, is the most frequent chromosomal abnormality in patients with childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and generally is associated with a favorable prognosis. Furthermore, real-time quantitative-polymerase chain reaction (RQ-PCR)-based detection of TEL/AML1 represents an accurate technique for the reproducible assessment of minimal residual disease (MRD).
Methods: The authors employed RQ-reverse transcriptase-PCR (RQ-RT-PCR) technology to analyze MRD levels in 57 newly diagnosed patients with TEL/AML1 positive ALL in a prospective study.
Results: On Day + 33, a particularly important time point in terms of outcome prediction based on MRD monitoring, 75% of patients reached negativity, 13% of patients were positive at very low levels (< 10(-4); i.e., 1 or more leukemic cell per 10(4) normal cells), and another 13% of patients were positive at the level of 10(-2) to 10(-4) cells. No patient showed MRD levels > or = 10(-2) cells at this time. The data demonstrate that patients with TEL/AML1 positive ALL had a better response to induction chemotherapy on Day + 33 compared with a group of unselected patients with ALL (P = 0.0001). However, four patients with TEL/AML1 positive ALL developed relapse disease. Remarkably, these children were positive for MRD on Day + 33 at a level between 10(-2) cells and 10(-4) (n = 3 patients) and at < 10(-4) (n = 1 patient). Kaplan-Meier analysis of disease free survival showed the statistical significance of this distribution (MRD positive vs. MRD negative; log-rank P = 0.0016).
Conclusions: The authors conclude that, although the TEL/AML1 positive leukemias generally are associated with a favorable outcome, MRD positivity assessed by RQ-RT-PCR analysis at the end of induction therapy represents a significantly negative prognostic feature.