Flow cytochemical analysis of peripheral lymphocytes in chronic B-lymphocytic leukemia. Prognostic role of the blast count determined by the H∗1 system and its correlation with morphologic features
ABSTRACT Peripheral blood samples from 148 previously untreated patients with chronic B-lymphocytic leukemia (B-CLL) were analyzed with the Technicon H∗1 flow cytometer. The absolute number and the percentage values of both LUCs (large unstained cells) and blasts were correlated with survival, as well as with well-known prognostic factors including morphological subtypes of lymphoid cells. Results showed that patients at the most advanced clinical stages (Rai: III and IV; Binet: C) had the highest percentage and count of both LUCs and blasts. Furthermore, the proportion of LUC positively correlated with the following prognostic factors: peripheral lymphocytosis (); marked splenomegaly (>10 cm UCM); % of circulating prolymphocytes, % immunoblasts, and % LGL. Our data analysis further revealed that chemotherapy produced a greater reduction of both the LUCs and of the blast count than of that of small lymphocytes. An increase in LUC count was found to coincide with deterioration of clinical status (progressive changes in the clinical stages, occurrence of prolymphocytoid transformation). A rapid increase in blast count was found to occur in concomitance with the development of Richter's syndrome, and correlated positively with the number of peripheral immunoblasts determined by light microscopy. Moreover, a blast percentage higher than 7% had the strongest predictive relation to survival rate when compared with other hematological parameters (, % of LUCs > 12%, LUC to lymphocyte ratio > 16%, ). In the light of these findings, it may be suggested that the presence both of larger proportions of LUCs and of blasts measured with the flow cytometry may be considered unfavorable prognostic factors in B-CLL. However, based on morphological and multivariate statistical analyses, the blast count proved to be the most important prognostic parameter determined by the H∗1 system in B-CLL.