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J Pediatr Hematol Oncol. 2003 Sep;25(9):721-5.

Lack of circulating megakaryoblasts in newborn peripheral blood: development and validation of a sensitive flow cytometric detection method.

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Department of Pediatrics, University of Kentucky School of Medicine, Lexington, KY 40536-0284, USA.


It is currently thought that approximately 1% of children with Down syndrome will develop a "premalignant" syndrome known as transient myeloproliferative disorder (TMD). Prospective, population-based studies of the incidence of TMD in Down syndrome infants is lacking. Although most cases of TMD resolve by 1 year of age, data suggest that 10% to 20% of Down syndrome patients with TMD develop AML-M7 (megakaryoblastic leukemia). To identify the true incidence of TMD in the Down syndrome population, a sensitive, rapid, and cost-effective method of quantifying circulating megakaryoblasts in large numbers of patients was needed. In this pilot study, the authors tested the hypothesis that there are fewer than 1% megakaryoblasts of nucleated cells circulating in the blood of normosomic infants. Four-antigen flow cytometry was used to establish the percentage of megakaryoblasts present in each of 100 cord blood samples collected blindly from "normosomic" live births. There was a mean percentage of 0.017% megakaryoblasts in 100 cord blood samples from normosomic infants. Flow cytometry proved to be a sensitive, rapid, and reproducible method for the quantification of megakaryoblasts. Less than 1% of circulating nucleated cells in the blood of newborn infants are megakaryoblasts, providing a comparison population for the authors' larger proposed incidence study.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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