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Crit Rev Oncol Hematol. 2005 Nov;56(2):283-309. Epub 2005 Oct 5.

Monitoring of minimal residual disease in acute myeloid leukemia.

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  • 1Laboratory for Leukemia Diagnostics, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, University Hospital Grosshadern, Department of Internal Medicine III, 81366 Muenchen, Germany.


Monitoring minimal residual disease (MRD) becomes increasingly important in the risk-adapted management of patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The two most sensitive and quantitative methods for MRD detection are multiparameter flow cytometry (MFC) and real-time polymerase chain reaction (QRT-PCR). Fusion gene-specific PCR in AML is based on the RNA level, and thus in contrast to MFC expression levels rather than cell counts are assessed. For both methods independent prognostic values have been shown. The strong power of MFC has been shown mainly in the assessment of early clearance of the malignant clone. MRD levels in AML with fusion genes have the strongest prognostic power after the end of consolidation therapy. In addition, with QRT-PCR highly predictive initial expression levels can be assessed. With both methods early detection of relapse is possible. So far, validated PCR-based MRD was done with fusion genes that are detectable in only 20-25% of all AML MFC is superior since it is applicable for most AML. However, QRT-PCR is still more sensitive in most cases. Thus, it is desirable to establish new molecular markers for PCR-based studies. Large clinical trials will determine the role and place of immunologic and PCR-based monitoring in the prognostic stratification of patients with AML.

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