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Blood. 2002 Jan 1;99(1):245-51.

Different drug sensitivity profiles of acute myeloid and lymphoblastic leukemia and normal peripheral blood mononuclear cells in children with and without Down syndrome.

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Department of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, Vrije Universiteit Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Children with Down syndrome (DS) have an increased risk for leukemia. The prognosis for DS acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is better than for non-DS AML, but the clinical outcome of DS acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is equal to that of non-DS ALL. Differences in prognosis may reflect differences in cellular drug resistance. In vitro drug resistance profiles were successfully investigated on leukemic cells from 13 patients with DS AML and 9 patients with DS ALL and were compared with reference data from 151 non-DS AML and 430 non-DS B-cell precursor (BCP) ALL. DS AML cells were significantly more sensitive to cytarabine (median, 12-fold), the anthracyclines (2-7-fold), mitoxantrone (9-fold), amsacrine (16-fold), etoposide (20-fold), 6-thioguanine (3-fold), busulfan (5-fold), vincristine (23-fold), and prednisolone (more than 1.1-fold), than non-DS AML cells. Compared with DS ALL, DS AML cells were significantly more sensitive to cytarabine only (21-fold). After short-term exposure to methotrexate, DS AML cells were 21-fold more resistant than non-DS AML cells, but no difference was observed after continuous exposure. DS ALL cells and non-DS BCP-ALL cells were equally sensitive to all drugs, including methotrexate. Normal peripheral blood mononuclear cells from DS and non-DS children without leukemia showed highly resistant drug profiles. It was concluded that the better prognosis of DS AML might, at least partially, be explained by a specific, relatively sensitive drug-resistance profile, reflecting the unique biology of this disease. (Blood. 2002;99:245-251).

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