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Leukemia. 2011 Feb;25(2):254-8. doi: 10.1038/leu.2010.275. Epub 2010 Nov 19.

Integrated use of minimal residual disease classification and IKZF1 alteration status accurately predicts 79% of relapses in pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

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Department of Human Genetics, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Radboud University Centre of Oncology and Nijmegen Centre for Molecular Life Sciences, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


Response to therapy as determined by minimal residual disease (MRD) is currently used for stratification in treatment protocols for pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). However, the large MRD-based medium risk group (MRD-M; 50-60% of the patients) harbors many relapses. We analyzed MRD in 131 uniformly treated precursor-B-ALL patients and evaluated whether combined MRD and IKZF1 (Ikaros zinc finger-1) alteration status can improve risk stratification. We confirmed the strong prognostic significance of MRD classification, which was independent of IKZF1 alterations. Notably, 8 of the 11 relapsed cases in the large MRD-M group (n=81; 62%) harbored an IKZF1 alteration. Integration of both MRD and IKZF1 status resulted in a favorable outcome group (n=104; 5 relapses) and a poor outcome group (n=27; 19 relapses), and showed a stronger prognostic value than each of the established risk factors alone (hazard ratio (95%CI): 24.98 (8.29-75.31)). Importantly, whereas MRD and IKZF1 status alone identified only 46 and 54% of the relapses, respectively, their integrated use allowed prediction of 79% of all the relapses with 93% specificity. Because of the unprecedented sensitivity in upfront relapse prediction, the combined parameters have high potential for future risk stratification, particularly for patients originally classified as non-high risk, such as the large group of MRD-M patients.

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