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Blood. 2001 Mar 15;97(6):1560-5.

Early detection of BCR-ABL transcripts by quantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction predicts outcome after allogeneic stem cell transplantation for chronic myeloid leukemia.

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Department of Haematology, Hammersmith Hospital, Imperial College School of Medicine, London, England.


The reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) has become widely used for monitoring minimal residual disease after allogeneic stem cell transplantation (SCT) for chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). However, most of these studies were performed using qualitative RT-PCR, and the interpretation of the results obtained has been conflicting. The correlation of a quantitative RT-PCR test performed early after SCT (at 3 to 5 months) and long-term outcome of CML patients surviving for more than 6 months was studied. Between January 1991 and June 1999, data from 138 CML patients who received allografts were evaluated. Early RT-PCR results were classified as (1) negative if there were no BCR-ABL transcripts detected (n = 61), (2) positive at low level if the total number of BCR-ABL transcripts was less than 100 per microg RNA and/or the BCR-ABL/ABL ratio was less than 0.02% (n = 14), or (3) positive at high level if transcript levels exceeded the thresholds defined above (n = 63). Three years after SCT the cumulative incidence of relapse was 16.7%, 42.9%, and 86.4%, respectively (P =.0001). The relationship between BCR-ABL transcript level and probability of relapse was apparent whether patients had received sibling or unrelated donor SCT and also whether or not the transplantation was T cell depleted. The results suggest that quantitative RT-PCR performed early after SCT is useful for predicting outcome and may help to define the need for further treatment.

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