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Leukemia. 1997 Feb;11(2):190-4.

Telomerase activity and cytogenetic changes in chronic myeloid leukemia with disease progression.

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  • 1First Department of Internal Medicine, Tokyo Medical College, Japan.


Progressive telomere shortening is thought to be important in the regulation of cellular senescence and that the upregulation or reactivation of telomerase activity may be a critical if not rate limiting step in the development of neoplastic cells. To obtain information about telomeres and telomerase activity in hematopoietic neoplasia at various disease stages, we evaluated 54 samples obtained from 41 patients with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) using a combination of fluorescent-telomeric repeat amplification protocol and an internal telomerase assay standard. The terminal restriction fragment (TRF) lengths in the blast phase was reduced compared to that in the chronic phase (4.53 +/- 0.72 kb vs 6.13 +/- 1.68 kb; P = 0.0005). All samples obtained from CML in the chronic phase (n = 33) had detectable telomerase activity above background, regardless of age. In the blast phase (n = 21), a significant increase of telomerase activity was detected compared to that in the chronic phase (33.84 +/- 37.86% vs 6.08 +/- 3.21; P = 0.016). Among patients in the blastic phase, 50% of patients had moderate to high telomerase activity (>10 relative value), and the remaining patients had telomerase activity higher than that in the normal peripheral blood cells. No significant differences in hematologic findings, duration of chronic phase or blast phase, and telomere length in the blastic phase were noted between these two groups separated by telomerase activity. CML patients with moderate to high telomerase activity had a high frequency of additional cytogenetic changes (P = 0.01).

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