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Leukemia. 1997 Sep;11(9):1501-7.

Immunophenotype of adult and childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia: changes at first relapse and clinico-prognostic implications.

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Department of Cellular Biotechnologies and Hematology, University La Sapienza, Roma, Italy.


The immunologic features of leukemic cells at the time of 1st hematologic relapse were compared to those obtained at initial diagnosis in 128 patients (69 children and 59 adults) with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) treated at a single institution. An immunophenotypic change was observed in 59 cases (46%), more frequently in T (20/25) than in B (39/103) lineage ALL (80 vs 38%, P=0.0008), but with a similar incidence in adults and children. Of these cases, 34 (24 B- and 10 T-ALL) changed at relapse their intralineage subgroup affiliation, although no complete shift from B to T lineage ALL, or vice versa, was observed. The myeloid antigens CD13 and/or CD33 were frequently lost (2/5 cases) or acquired (12/123 cases) at relapse. In 21 cases, the immunophenotype at relapse was more undifferentiated than at diagnosis, while it was more differentiated in 13 cases. Initial treatment intensity or preceding treatment with teniposide did not affect the phenotypic profile at relapse. Complete response (CR) rate to salvage therapy and event-free survival were not influenced by the immunophenotypic shifts, nor by the presence, at relapse, of leukemic cells expressing the myeloid antigens CD13 and/or CD33. Univariate analysis suggested that prognosis after relapse was dependent on the duration of 1st CR, patients' age and immunophenotype at the time of diagnosis, with a worse outcome for patients with T lineage ALL and for patients with the less differentiated subgroup of B lineage ALL (CD19+ and CD10-). Multivariate analysis showed that only two factors, duration of 1st CR and grade of immunologic differentiation at diagnosis, have independent prognostic value in relapsed ALL.

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