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Acta Med Croatica. 2008 Oct;62(4):379-85.

[Cytomorphology of acute mixed leukemia].

[Article in Croatian]

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  • 1Zavod za citologiju, Klinicki zavod za patologiju i citologiju, Klinicki bolnicki centar Zagreb, Zagreb, Hrvatska.


Biphenotypic acute leukemias (AL) with blasts expressing both myeloid and lymphoid antigens are grouped with undifferentiated AL and bilineal AL in the group of AL of ambiguous lineage. Not all AL with myeloid and lymphoid antigens (ALMy+Ly) are true biphenotypic AL. According to EGIL scoring system, true biphenotypic ALMy+Ly are those with a sum of antigens 2 or more points for both myeloid and lymphoid lineage or for B and T lineage. The aim of this study was to compare cytomorphology and immunophenotype of AL to better understand the relation of certain AL morphology, immunophenotype, cytogenetics and molecular biology of biphenotypic AL.


The study included a group of 169 AL patients treated from 1985 till 1991, and a group of 102 AL patients treated from 1993 till 1996 at Zagreb University Hospital Center. Bone marrow and peripheral blood of the two groups of AL patients were analyzed according to Pappenheim (May-Grunwald-Giemsa), cytochemical and alkaline phosphatase-anti-alkaline phosphatase (APAAP) immunocytochemical staining. Flow cytometry immunophenotyping of bone marrow was also done in both patient groups.


In the group of 169 adult AL patients, 116 were cytomorphologically classified as acute myeloblastic leukemias (AML), 35 as acute lymphoblastic leukemias (ALL) and 18 as acute undifferentiated leukemias (ANLM). In 6 (3.4%) of 169 AL patients, blasts expressed both myeloid and lymphoid antigens. In the group of 102 AL patients there were 19 (18.6%) ALMy+Ly. In 64 patients cytomorphologically classified into AML subgroup out of 102 AL patients, there were 15 (14.7%/102; 23.4%/64) AML with lymphoid antigens (AMLLy+). In 35 patients cytomorphologically diagnosed as ALL and 3 as ANLM out of 102 AL, there were 4 (3.9%/102; 10.5%/38) ALL with myeloid antigens (ALLMy+). The incidence of mixed AL in 102 AL was more consistent with other studies, pointing to the necessity of myeloperoxidase (MPO), CD7 and TdT determination as part of standard immunophenotyping for better recognition of mixed AL.


In both groups of 169 and 102 AL patients, the majority of AL cases were cytomorphologically classified as AML. In the group of 169 patients there were 5 AMLLy+ and in the group of 102 patients there were 15 AMLLy+. In one ANLM,My+ out of 169 AL and also one ANLM,My+ out of 102 AL, blasts were cytomorphologically undifferentiated; in 3 ALLMy+ of 102 AL blasts expressed lymphoid morphology. According to EGIL scoring system, among 15 AMLLy+ of 102 AL there were 4 true biphenotypic ALMy+Ly (1 M1, 2 M3, 1 M4), and in 4 ALMy+Ly with undifferentiated and lymphoid morphology there were 2 true biphenotypic AL (1 L2; 1 ANLM). In 3 ALLB+T out of 35 ALL, one was interlineal biphenotypic AL. These observations are consistent with other studies and WHO determinations indicating that the majority of true biphenotypic leukemias are associated with immature monoblastic or myeloid cytomorphology or with lymphoid or undifferentiated characteristics, but may also express any AML cytomorphology type. Thus, there is no direct correlation of leukemic cell cytomorphology and biphenotypic AL immunophenotype.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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