, Volume 84, Issue 12, pp 767-770
Date: 12 Nov 2005

Myeloperoxidase cytochemical negativity: an unexpected but intrinsic property of blasts of all phases of chronic myeloid leukemia

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Myeloperoxidase (MPO) cytochemical activity, recognized as a very important hallmark of myeloblasts, is generally negative in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) blast crisis (BC). Because this finding is unexpected, being not in keeping with the myeloproliferative nature of CML, we tried to ascertain if MPO cytochemical negativity could be an intrinsic property of blasts of CML and hence present in the preblastic phases as well. Myeloperoxidase cytochemistry of peripheral blood blasts in 161 cases of CML, including 103 in chronic phase (CP) and 29 each in accelerated phase (AP) and BC, was assessed and compared with that of 30 cases of acute myeloid leukemia, AML-M2. Blasts of 97 (94.2%) of 103 cases of CP, 28 (96.6%) of 29 cases of AP, and 22 (75.9%) of 29 cases of BC were negative for MPO (<3% MPO-positive blasts). Compared with the strong MPO positivity, both in terms of intensity and proportion, in the AML-M2 cases, the positivity in the CML cases was generally weak and was seen in a small number of blasts (5–15%), except in one case of BC with 20% positive blasts. Absence or, at times, weak MPO cytochemical activity is an intrinsic property of blasts of all phases of CML, and use of the term myeloblast in CML should be understood to refer to a cell with this property. This also explains why MPO cytochemistry, despite its high reputation as a myeloid-lineage marker, generally does not help in CML BC. CML BC should therefore be considered as a possible diagnosis along with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, AML-M0, AML-M7, etc., in the setting of MPO-negative blasts. Similarity between MPO expression pattern in CML, i.e., negative in blasts and positive in the more mature cells, and that during maturation of normal myeloid series of cells shows the deranged myelopoiesis of CML to be undisturbed at least with respect to MPO expression. There is need for a more comprehensive study of blasts of preblastic phases.