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Keywords:

  • cytogenetics;
  • FISH;
  • ETV6;
  • CBFA2;
  • MLL;
  • CDKN2;
  • childhood ALL

Abstract: Between 1977 and 1996, cytogenetic investigations were performed on 182 childhood (leqslant R: less-than-or-eq, slant16 yr) acute lymphoblastic leukemias (ALL), constituting 94% (182 of 194) of all ALL patients diagnosed and treated at the Departments of Pediatrics, Lund and Malmö University Hospitals, Sweden, during these two decades. The cytogenetic analyses were successful in 152 cases (84%). The failure rate was higher for the ALL investigated before 1987 (30% vs. 4%, p<0.0001), and also the incidence of cytogenetically normal cases was higher during 1977–86 (43% vs. 25%, p<0.05). Clonal chromosomal abnormalities were found in 103 (68%) ALL. Structural rearrangements were detected, by chromosome banding alone, in 76 cases (50%). Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) was used to identify cases with t(12;21), 11q23 rearrangements, and 9p deletions, using probes for ETV6/CBFA2, MLL, and CDKN2A/B, in 72 cases from which cells in fixative and/or unstained metaphase preparations were available. In total, the most common structural rearrangements were del(9p) (17%), t(12;21) (15%), del(6q) (8%), and MLL rearrangements (4%). Six (32%) of nineteen cytogenetically normal ALL analyzed by FISH harbored cryptic abnormalities; three displayed t(12;21) and four had del(9p), one of which also carried a t(12;21). Five (45%) of the t(12;21)-positive ALL showed +der(21)t(12;21) or ider(21)(q10)t(12;21), resulting in the formation of double fusion genes. Among the more rare aberrations, eight structural rearrangements were identified as novel recurrent ALL-associated abnormalities, and nine cases harbored rearrangements previously not reported. Sixteen cases displayed karyotypically unrelated clones at different investigations. Seven ALL (5%) showed simple chromosomal changes, unrelated to the aberrations detected at diagnosis, during morphologic and clinical remission, and in all but one instance the patients remained in remission, with the abnormal clone disappearing in subsequent investigations. This indicates that the emergence of novel clonal chromosomal aberrations during remission in childhood ALL is rather common and does not by necessity predict a forthcoming relapse.