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Leukemia. 2002 Oct;16(10):2084-91.

Karyotype instability between diagnosis and relapse in 117 patients with acute myeloid leukemia: implications for resistance against therapy.

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Ludwig-Maximilians-University, University Hospital Grosshadern, Dept. of Internal Medicine III, Muenchen, Germany.


The instability of the karyotype may play a role in the development of refractoriness of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) to anti-leukemic therapy. Therefore, in the current study cytogenetic analyses were performed in 117 patients with AML both at diagnosis and at relapse. Changes in karyotype were observed in 38% (36% of initially normal karyotypes, 39% of initially aberrant karyotypes). An evolution of karyotype, ie the acquisition of further aberrations in addition to those present at diagnosis, occurred more frequently in patients with unfavorable karyotypes at diagnosis as compared to all others (60% vs 32%, P = 0.0095). The duration from initial diagnosis to relapse was significantly shorter in cases with an evolution of the aberrant karyotype as compared to cases with no changes in the aberrant karyotype between diagnosis and relapse or with solely regression of aberrations at relapse (9.2 +/- 4.4 vs14.0 +/- 8.5 months, P = 0.0081). In an additional analysis, another cohort of 120 patients with refractory and relapsed AML who were treated uniformly within the respective trial of the German AML Cooperative Group was analyzed cytogenetically at diagnosis and at relapse to further prove the prognostic impact of karyotype aberrations at relapse. Karyotypes were prognostically favorable, intermediate, unfavorable and not available in 8%, 50%, 17% and 25% at diagnosis and in 8%, 49%, 21% and 22% at relapse, respectively. Karyotype aberrations at diagnosis had no impact on response to therapy (P = 0.32) but influenced survival and event-free survival significantly (P = 0.03 and P = 0.02). In contrast, karyotype aberrations at relapse strongly influenced response to therapy (P = 0.05), survival (P = 0.01), and event-free survival (P = 0.002). These data suggest that the instability of the karyotype between diagnosis and relapse and thus karyotype aberrations at relapse in particular contribute to the refractoriness of AML to anti-leukemic therapy.

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