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Chin J Cancer. 2012 Aug;31(8):381-91. doi: 10.5732/cjc.012.10044. Epub 2012 Jun 26.

A facile, branched DNA assay to quantitatively measure glucocorticoid receptor auto-regulation in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Stanley S. Scott Cancer Center, Louisiana State University Health Science Center, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA.


Glucocorticoid (GC) steroid hormones are used to treat acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) because of their pro-apoptotic effects in hematopoietic cells. However, not all leukemia cells are sensitive to GC, and no assay to stratify patients is available. In the GC-sensitive T-cell ALL cell line CEM-C7, auto-up-regulation of RNA transcripts for the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) correlates with increased apoptotic response. This study aimed to determine if a facile assay of GR transcript levels might be promising for stratifying ALL patients into hormone-sensitive and hormone-resistant populations. The GR transcript profiles of various lymphoid cell lines and 4 bone marrow samples from patients with T-cell ALL were analyzed using both an optimized branched DNA (bDNA) assay and a real-time quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction assay. There were significant correlations between both assay platforms when measuring total GR (exon 5/6) transcripts in various cell lines and patient samples, but not for a probe set that detects a specific, low abundance GR transcript (exon 1A3). Our results suggest that the bDNA platform is reproducible and precise when measuring total GR transcripts and, with further development, may ultimately offer a simple clinical assay to aid in the prediction of GC-sensitivity in ALL patients.

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