[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), response to treatment is assessed by bone marrow aspiration. We investigated whether minimal residual disease (MRD) can be effectively monitored in peripheral blood. We used flow cytometric techniques capable of detecting 1 leukemic cell among 10 000 or more normal cells to compare MRD measurements in 718 pairs of bone marrow and peripheral blood samples collected from 226 children during treatment for newly diagnosed ALL. MRD was detected in marrow and blood in 72 pairs and in marrow but not in blood in 67 pairs; it was undetectable in the remaining 579 pairs. Remarkably, findings in marrow and blood were completely concordant in the 150 paired samples from patients with T-lineage ALL: for each of the 35 positive marrow samples, the corresponding blood sample was positive. In B-lineage ALL, however, only 37 of 104 positive marrow samples had a corresponding positive blood sample. Notably, peripheral blood MRD in these patients was associated with a very high risk for disease recurrence. The 4-year cumulative incidence of relapse in patients with B-lineage ALL was 80.0% +/- 24.9% for those who had peripheral blood MRD at the end of remission induction therapy but only 13.3% +/- 9.1% for those with MRD confined to the marrow (P =.007). These results indicate that peripheral blood may be used to monitor MRD in patients with T-lineage ALL and that peripheral blood MRD may provide strong prognostic information in patients with B-lineage ALL.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Early clearance of leukemic cells is a favorable prognostic indicator in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). However, identification of residual leukemic cells by their morphologic features is subjective and lacks sensitivity. To improve estimates of leukemia clearance, we applied flow cytometric techniques capable of detecting 1 leukemic cell in 10,000 or more normal cells and prospectively measured residual leukemia in bone marrow samples collected on day 19 of remission-induction chemotherapy from 248 children with newly diagnosed ALL. In 134 samples (54.0%), we identified at least 0.01% leukemic cells (0.01%-< 0.1% in 51 samples [20.6%], 0.1%-< 1% in 36 [14.5%], and > or = 1% in 47 [19.0%]). Among 110 children treated within a single chemotherapy program, the 5-year mean +/- SE cumulative incidence of relapse or failure to achieve remission was 32.2% +/- 6.5% for the 59 patients with 0.01% residual leukemic cells or greater on day 19 and 6.0% +/- 3.4% for the 51 patients with less than 0.01% leukemic cells (P <.001). The prognostic value of day-19 bone marrow status defined by flow cytometry was superior to that defined by morphologic studies and remained significant after adjustment for other clinical and biologic variables. Lack of detectable leukemic cells on day 19 was more closely associated with relapse-free survival than was lack of detectable residual disease at the end of remission induction (day 46). Thus, approximately half of the children with ALL achieve profound clearance of leukemic cells after 2 to 3 weeks of remission-induction chemotherapy, and these patients have an excellent treatment outcome.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: By using rapid flow cytometric techniques capable of detecting one leukemic cell in 10(4) normal cells, we prospectively studied minimal residual disease (MRD) in 195 children with newly diagnosed acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in clinical remission. Bone marrow aspirates (n = 629) were collected at the end of remission induction therapy and at 3 intervals thereafter. Detectable MRD (ie, > or = 0.01% leukemic mononuclear cells) at each time point was associated with a higher relapse rate (P < .001); patients with high levels of MRD at the end of the induction phase (> or = 1%) or at week 14 of continuation therapy (> or = 0.1%) had a particularly poor outcome. The predictive strength of MRD remained significant even after adjusting for adverse presenting features, excluding patients at very high or very low risk of relapse from the analysis, and considering levels of peripheral blood lymphoblasts at day 7 and day 10 of induction therapy. The incidence of relapse among patients with MRD at the end of the induction phase was 68% +/- 16% (SE) if they remained with MRD through week 14 of continuation therapy, compared with 7% +/- 7% if MRD became undetectable (P = .035). The persistence of MRD until week 32 was highly predictive of relapse (all 4 MRD(+) patients relapsed vs 2 of the 8 who converted to undetectable MRD status; P = .021). Sequential monitoring of MRD by the method described here provides highly significant, independent prognostic information in children with ALL. Recent improvements in this flow cytometric assay have made it applicable to more than 90% of all new patients. (Blood. 2000;96:2691-2696)