Antibodies against CD66 identify antigens from the carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) family of proteins, which belong to the immunoglobulin gene superfamily. Despite being usually restricted to cells of myeloid or monocytic origin, CD66 expression has also been reported in blasts from children with B-cell lineage acute lymphocytic leukaemia (ALL). An analysis of the CD66 expression was undertaken in a series of acute leukaemia patients. Antigenic expression was analysed using triple combinations of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) in forty-five patients. The CD66 Kat4 fluorescein isothiocyanate clone was purchased from Dako (Glostrup, Denmark). CD66 was expressed in 2 of 29 patients with AML (acute myeloblastic leukemia) (6.8%) and in 8 of 12 patients with B-cell lineage ALL (66.7%; P <0.001); in blast crisis (BC) of chronic myelocytic leukaemia (CML), CD66 was expressed in two patients with lymphoid BC but not in the two with myeloid BC. The co-expression of CD66 with other myeloid antigens was observed in all CD66+ ALL/Ly-BC cases tested: CD 13 in six patients, CD33 in seven and CD117 in two patients. The CD66 expression is more frequent in ALL than in AML. Furthermore, we analysed minimal residual disease (MRD) in eight patients in complete remission. CD66 expression was associated with an abnormal B-cell differentiation pattern and with increases in CD34/CD19+ cells in all but one case. These findings suggest that an aberrant expression of CD66 could be used to investigate MRD in ALL. The association between CD66 reactivity and bcr-abl in adult ALL remains to be investigated.
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