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Blood. 2003 Oct 1;102(7):2387-94. Epub 2003 Jun 19.

FLT3 internal tandem duplication in 234 children with acute myeloid leukemia: prognostic significance and relation to cellular drug resistance.

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Department of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, VU University Medical Center, PO Box 7057, 1007 MB Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


FLT3 is a receptor tyrosine kinase involved in the proliferation and differentiation of hematopoietic stem cells. FLT3 internal tandem duplications (FLT3/ITDs) are reported in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and predict poor clinical outcome. We found FLT3/ITDs in 11.5% of 234 children with de novo AML. FLT3/ITD-positive patients were significantly older and had higher percentages of normal cytogenetic findings or French-American-British (FAB) classification M1/M2 and lower percentages of 11q23 abnormalities or FAB M5. FLT3/ITD-positive patients had lower remission induction rates (70% vs 88%; P =.01) and lower 5-year probability rates of event-free survival (pEF) (29% vs 46%; P =.0046) and overall survival (32% vs 58%; P =.037). Patients with high ratios (higher than the median) between mutant and wild-type FLT3 had significantly worse 2-year EFS rates than FLT3/ITD-negative patients (pEFS 20% vs 61%; P =.037), whereas patients with ratios lower than the median did not (pEFS 44% vs 61%; P =.26). FLT3/ITD was the strongest independent predictor for pEFS, with an increase in relative risk for an event of 1.92 (P =.01). Using an MTT (methyl-thiazol-tetrazolium)-based assay, we studied cellular drug resistance on 15 FLT3/ITD-positive and 125 FLT3/ITD-negative AML samples, but we found no differences in cellular drug resistance that could explain the poor outcomes in FLT3/ITD-positive patients. We conclude that FLT3/ITD is less common in pediatric than in adult AML. FLT3/ITD is a strong and independent adverse prognostic factor, and high ratios between mutant and WT-FLT3 further compromise prognosis. However, poor outcomes in FLT3/ITD-positive patients could not be attributed to increased in vitro cellular drug resistance.

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