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Br J Haematol. 2011 Mar;152(6):743-53. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2141.2010.08456.x. Epub 2011 Jan 20.

Minimal residual disease assessment in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia: a Swedish multi-centre study comparing real-time polymerase chain reaction and multicolour flow cytometry.

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Department of Genetics and Pathology, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden. ingrid.thorn@akademiska.se

Abstract

Minimal residual disease (MRD) assessment is a powerful prognostic factor for determining the risk of relapse in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL). In this Swedish multi-centre study of childhood ALL diagnosed between 2002 and 2006, the MRD levels were analysed in 726 follow-up samples in 228 children using real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RQ-PCR) of rearranged immunoglobulin/T-cell receptor genes and multicolour flow cytometry (FCM). Using an MRD threshold of 0·1%, which was the sensitivity level reached in all analyses, the concordance between RQ-PCR and FCM MRD values at day 29 was 84%. In B-cell precursor ALL, an MRD level of ≥0·1% at day 29 predicted a higher risk of bone marrow relapse (BMR) with both methods, although FCM was a better discriminator. However, considering the higher median MRD values achieved with RQ-PCR, a higher MRD cut-off (≥0·2%) improved the predictive capacity of RQ-PCR. In T-ALL, RQ-PCR was notably superior to FCM in predicting risk of BMR. That notwithstanding, MRD levels of ≥0·1%, detected by either method at day 29, could not predict isolated extramedullary relapse. In conclusion, the concordance between RQ-PCR and FCM was high and hence both methods are valuable clinical tools for identifying childhood ALL cases with increased risk of BMR.

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