Clinical significance of bcr-abl gene rearrangement detected by polymerase chain reaction after allogeneic bone marrow transplantation in chronic myelogenous leukemia.


Journal Article

In chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), amplification of a segment of bcr-abl messenger RNA (mRNA) by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) can be used to detect minimal residual disease after bone marrow transplantation (BMT). Previous studies have shown that this sensitive technique can often detect small numbers of leukemia cells in patients who are otherwise in complete remission. Nevertheless, the clinical significance of PCR positivity remains unclear because the majority of patients with PCR-detectable bcr-abl mRNA can remain disease-free for prolonged periods after allogeneic BMT. In the present studies, we applied PCR to detect bcr-abl-positive cells in 100 serial blood or BM samples from 24 patients with CML who underwent CD6 T-cell-depleted allogeneic BMT. After BMT, bcr-abl mRNA could be detected in 20 patients (83.3%) during complete cytogenetic or clinical remission. Patients in whom PCR positivity was sustained over time had a higher probability of CML relapse than patients in whom PCR was intermittently negative (P = .0095, log rank test). PCR detection of bcr-abl transcript between 2 and 10 weeks post-BMT also was associated with a high probability of subsequent relapse (P = .023, log rank test). In eight selected patients, we used a titration assay of the PCR-amplified product to estimate the number of residual tumor cells in each clinical sample post-BMT. PCR results in four patients showed a continuing increase in the number of tumor cells from early posttransplant until either cytogenetic or clinical relapse could be detected by conventional methods 1 to 2 years later. In contrast, PCR detected either no leukemia cells or relatively low and stable numbers of residual tumor cells throughout the follow-up period in four patients who remained in clinical remission. These results show that detection of the bcr-abl transcript by PCR after allogeneic BMT in patients with CML has important prognostic value. Estimation of the number of tumor cells in serial analyses can also be used to detect proliferation of the residual leukemic population. Sensitive detection of minimal residual disease can be used to assess the effectiveness of the transplant preparative regimen and to direct and evaluate further therapy post-BMT, before the development of overt relapse.

Full Text

Cited Authors

  • Delage, R; Soiffer, RJ; Dear, K; Ritz, J

Published Date

  • November 1991

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 78 / 10

Start / End Page

  • 2759 - 2767

PubMed ID

  • 1824268

Pubmed Central ID

  • 1824268

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1528-0020

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0006-4971


  • eng