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Leukemia. 2006 Apr;20(4):549-55.

Flow cytometry evaluation of erythroid dysplasia in patients with myelodysplastic syndrome.

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  • 1Division of Hematology, University of Pavia Medical School, IRCCS Policlinico S. Matteo, Pavia, Italy.


Erythroid dysplasia is the pathologic hallmark of myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). To develop a quantitative flow-cytometry approach to its evaluation, we analyzed the expression of CD71, CD105, cytosolic H-ferritin (HF), cytosolic L-ferritin (LF) and mitochondrial ferritin (MtF) in erythroblasts from 104 MDS patients, 69 pathologic control patients and 19 healthy subjects. Six-parameter, 4-color flow cytometry was employed, and data were expressed as mean fluorescence intensity. Compared with pathologic and healthy controls, MDS patients had higher expression of HF (P < 0.001) and CD105 (P < 0.001), and lower expression of CD71 (P < 0.001). MtF was specifically detected in MDS with ringed sideroblasts, and there was a close relationship between its expression and Prussian blue staining (r = 0.89, P < 0.001). In vitro cultures of myelodysplastic hematopoietic progenitors showed that both HF and MtF were expressed at a very early stage of erythroid differentiation, and that MtF expression is specifically related to mitochondrial iron loading. A classification function based on expression levels of HF, CD71 and CD105 allowed us to correctly classify > 95% of MDS patients. This flow-cytometry approach provides an accurate quantitative evaluation of erythroid dysplasia and allows a reliable diagnosis of sideroblastic anemia, and may therefore be a useful tool in the work-up of patients with MDS.

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