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Cancer Res. 2001 Oct 1;61(19):7233-9.

Absence of the wild-type allele predicts poor prognosis in adult de novo acute myeloid leukemia with normal cytogenetics and the internal tandem duplication of FLT3: a cancer and leukemia group B study.

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  • 1The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio 43210, USA.


The FLT3 gene is mutated by an internal tandem duplication (ITD) in 20-25% of adults with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). We studied 82 adults <60 years of age with primary AML and normal cytogenetics, who received uniform high-dose therapy and found FLT3 ITD in 23 (28%) patients. When the 23 FLT3 ITD+ cases were compared with the 59 cases with wild-type (WT) FLT3, disease-free survival (DFS) was inferior (P = 0.03), yet overall survival (OS) was not different (P = 0.14). However, 8 (35%) of 23 FLT3 ITD/+ cases also lacked a FLT3 WT allele (FLT3(ITD-R)) as determined by PCR and loss of heterozygosity. Thus, three genotypic groups were identified: normal FLT3(WT/WT), heterozygous FLT3(ITD/WT), and hemizygous FLT3(ITD/-). DFS and OS were significantly inferior for patients with FLT3(ITD/-) (P = 0.0017 and P = 0.0014, respectively). Although DFS and OS for FLT3(WT/WT) and FLT3(ITD/WT) groups did not differ (P = 0.32 and P = 0.98, respectively), OS of the FLT3(ITD/-) group was worse than the FLT3(WT/WT) (P = 0.0005) and FLT3(ITD/WT) (P = 0.008) groups. We propose a model in which FLT3(ITD/-) represents a dominant positive, gain-of-function mutation providing AML cells with a greater growth advantage compared with cells having the FLT3(WT/WT) or FLT3(ITD/WT) genotypes. In conclusion, we have identified the FLT3(ITD/-) genotype as an adverse prognostic factor in de novo AML with normal cytogenetics. A poor prognosis of the relatively young FLT3(ITD/-) adults (median age, 37 years), despite treatment with current dose-intensive regimens, suggests that new treatment modalities, such as therapy with a FLT3 tyrosine kinase inhibitor, are clearly needed for this group of patients.

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