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Leukemia. 2001 Mar;15(3):406-14.

Adult precursor B-ALL with BCR/ABL gene rearrangements displays a unique immunophenotype based on the pattern of CD10, CD34, CD13 and CD38 expresssion.

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Departamento de Medicina, and Centro de Investigaciones del Cancer, University of Salamanca, Spain.


The Philadelphia chromosome (Ph+) reflects a balanced reciprocal translocation between the long arms of chromosomes 9 and 22 [t(9;22)(q34;q11.2] involving the BCR and ABL genes. At present, detection of BCR/ABL gene rearrangements is mandatory in precursor-B-ALL patients at diagnosis for prognostic stratification and treatment decision. In spite of the clinical impact, no screening method, displaying a high sensitive and specificity, is available for the identification of BCR/ABL+ precursor-B-ALL cases. The aim of the present study was to explore the immunophenotypic characteristics of precursor B-ALL cases displaying BCR/ABL gene rearrangements using multiple stainings analyzed by quantitative flow cytometry in order to rapidly (<1 h) identify unique phenotypes associated with this translocation. From the 82 precursor-B-ALL cases included in the study 12 displayed BCR/ABL gene rearragements, all corresponding to adult patients, four of which also displayed DNA aneuploidy. Our results show that BCR/ABL+ precursor B-ALL cases constantly displayed a homogeneous expression of CD10 and CD34 but low and relatively heterogeneous CD38 expression, together with an aberrant reactivity for CD13. In contrast, this unique phenotype was only detected in three out of 70 BCR/ABL cases. Therefore, the combined use of staining patterns for CD34, CD38 and CD13 expression within CD10-positive blast cells is highly suggestive of BCR/ABL gene rearrangements in adults with precursor B-ALL.

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