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High spontaneous colony growth in chronic myelomonocytic leukemia correlates with increased disease activity and is a novel prognostic factor for predicting short survival


We have originally shown that spontaneous granulocyte/macrophage colony (CFU-GM) formation in semisolid medium is a characteristic in vitro feature of chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMML). However, the clinical significance of spontaneous CFU-GM growth in CMML is unknown so far. CFU-GM growth characteristics were studied in semisolid cultures in the absence of exogenous cytokines using peripheral blood mononuclear cells in 30 patients with CMML at first presentation. The median number of CFU-GM/105 MNC of all patients was 48.5 (range 0–622) with 18 patients having colony numbers below 100 (low CFU-GM growth) and 12 patients above 100 (high CFU-GM growth). Kaplan-Meier analysis revealed that patients with high CFU-GM growth had a significantly shorter survival than patients with low CFU-GM growth (median 6.5 vs. 44.5 months, p<0.00002). The probability of survival after 2 years was 60.5% for patients with low colony growth but 0% in those with high colony formation. Patients with CFU-GM >100 had a significantly higher WBC count, a higher LDH, and a higher number of blast cells in blood and bone marrow than patients with low colony growth. Moreover, patients with high colony growth had more often splenomegaly and lower platelet counts. In seven patients, in whom semisolid in vitro cultures were performed after transformation into RAEBT/AML, spontaneous colony growth was significantly increased as compared to CFU-GM growth in patients before transformation (median number/105 MNC 533, range 212–4553, p<0.005). This study demonstrates that high (>100) spontaneous CFU-GM formation in CMML at presentation correlates with increased disease activity and represents a novel and important prognostic factor predicting for short survival of CMML patients.

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Correspondence to V. Sagaster.

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Sagaster, V., Öhler, L., Berer, A. et al. High spontaneous colony growth in chronic myelomonocytic leukemia correlates with increased disease activity and is a novel prognostic factor for predicting short survival. Ann Hematol 83, 9–13 (2004).

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  • Colony growth
  • Chronic myelomonocytic leukemia
  • Survival