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Blood. 2012 Apr 12;119(15):3413-9. doi: 10.1182/blood-2011-11-393264. Epub 2012 Feb 28.

Role of minimal residual disease monitoring in acute promyelocytic leukemia treated with arsenic trioxide in frontline therapy.

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Department of Haematology, Christian Medical College, Vellore, India.


Data on minimal residual disease (MRD) monitoring in acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) are available only in the context of conventional all-trans retinoic acid plus chemotherapy regimens. It is recognized that the kinetics of leukemia clearance is different with the use of arsenic trioxide (ATO) in the treatment of APL. We undertook a prospective peripheral blood RT-PCR-based MRD monitoring study on patients with APL treated with a single agent ATO regimen. A total of 151 patients were enrolled in this study. A positive RT-PCR reading at the end of induction therapy was significantly associated on a multivariate analysis with an increased risk of relapse (relative risk = 4.9; P = .034). None of the good risk patients who were RT-PCR negative at the end of induction relapsed. The majority of the relapses (91%) happened within 3 years of completion of treatment. After achievement of molecular remission, the current MRD monitoring strategy was able to predict relapse in 60% of cases with an overall sensitivity and specificity of 60% and 93.2%, respectively. High-risk group patients and those that remain RT-PCR positive at the end of induction are likely to benefit from serial MRD monitoring by RT-PCR for a period of 3 years from completion of therapy.

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