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In patients with BCR-ABL-positive ALL in CR peripheral blood contains less residual disease than bone marrow: Implications for autologous BMT

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Residual leukemic cells are detectable at frequencies as low as 1 in 106 normal cells in patients with Philadelphia chromosome/BCR-ABL-positive leukemias in complete remission (CR) using reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) with specific nested primers. The level of minimal residual disease (MRD) in the bone marrow (BM) and the peripheral blood (PB) may favor one of the two as the source for an autologous graft. In order to quantify MRD with RT-PCR we analyzed patients ficolled cells after limiting logarithmic dilutions in normal ficolled buffy-coat cells. In six patients with BCR-ABL-pos ALL who were in CR by conventional criteria (5 in CR1 and 1 in CR2), we studied a total of nine paired BM and PB samples prior to scheduled ABMT. A positive RT-PCR signals was detectable in all samples up to dilutions ranging from 1∶101 to 1∶103 in PB, and at higher titers ranging from 1∶103 to 1∶105 in the BM. The BM titers exceeded the corresponding PB titers in all nine sample pairs by at least 1 log. The mean difference was 1.55 log (geometric mean,n=9) and is statistically significant (p<0.03). We conclude that residual leukemia in BCR-ABL-positive ALL preferentially locates in the BM compartment, and we assume that PB may yield autologous grafts with significantly less leukemic contamination.

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Correspondence to H. Martin.

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This work was supported by theDeutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

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Martin, H., Atta, J., Bruecher, J. et al. In patients with BCR-ABL-positive ALL in CR peripheral blood contains less residual disease than bone marrow: Implications for autologous BMT. Ann Hematol 68, 85–87 (1994).

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Key words

  • Acute lymphoblastic leukemia BCR-ABL rearrangment
  • Minimal residual diasease Polymerase chain reaction
  • Autologous BMT