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Hematol Cell Ther. 1997 Jun;39(3):119-24.

Minimal residual disease detection in B-cell malignancies by assessing IgH rearrangement.

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Hôpital Pitié-Salpètrière, Département d'Hématologie, Paris, France.


In B-cell malignancies, the uniqueness of the immunoglobulin heavy chain locus (IgH) clonal rearrangement provides a useful marker for the detection of minimal residual disease (MRD) after treatment. During the last decade, several techniques have been proposed and used for detecting MRD. In this review, we report the current PCR based techniques dealing with amplification of the VDJ segment since the CDR3 region is unique to each IgH rearrangement. The sensitivity of these techniques varies considerably with a detection level of one tumoral cell in 10(-2) to 10(-6) normal cells. Accurate and sensitive assessment of MRD may have profound impact in the clinical management of patients with hematologic malignancies. Although, a majority of studies have shown a good correlation between the rapidity or extent of the reduction in the number of tumoral cells and the subsequent relapse, other studies demonstrated substained positivity of PCR in patients in long term remission. Thus, current clinical studies of MRD should establish whether MRD predicts relapse uniformly and, therefore, justifies intensification of therapy in positive cases, or whether it simply detects leukemic cell populations whose proliferative potential has been altered by chemotherapy.

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