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Leukemia. 2006 Mar;20(3):458-62.

Quantitative analysis of bone marrow CD34 cells in aplastic anemia and hypoplastic myelodysplastic syndromes.

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  • 1The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, Baltimore, MD 21231, USA.


Aplastic anemia (AA) and hypoplastic myelodysplastic syndromes (hMDS) are often difficult to distinguish. However, an accurate diagnosis is important because the prognosis and treatment of these diseases may differ. CD34+ hematopoietic progenitors are central to the pathogenesis of both disorders; they are the targets of the autoimmune attack in AA and neoplastic transformation in MDS. The aim of this study was to assess whether bone marrow CD34+ cell numbers could be used in differentiating between AA and hMDS. The percentage of bone marrow CD34+ cells was normal or increased (mean -3.5+0.5%, range 1-7%) in 15 of 35 patients studied, and low (mean -0.13 +/- 0.02%, range 0.02-0.36%) in 20 of 35 patients. All patients with a normal or increased percentage of CD34+ cells were ultimately diagnosed with hMDS based on the detection of clonal cytogenetic abnormalities or progression to refractory anemia with excess blasts/acute myeloid leukemia. All patients with low marrow CD34+ cell numbers met standard clinical criteria for AA and have not demonstrated neoplastic transformation with follow-up. Quantification of marrow CD34+ cells may serve as an important tool for distinguishing between AA and hMDS.

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