British Journal of Haematology vol:75 issue:3 pages:346-54
Clinical features, as well as morphology, immunophenotype and cytogenetics were retrospectively studied in 20 patients with an original diagnosis of erythroleukaemia (EL) reclassified according to the FAB criteria. Fifteen patients had de novo EL, five patients had therapy-related EL. Myelodysplasia preceded the onset of EL in eight cases and myelodysplastic features involving multiple haemopoietic lineages were observed at leukaemia presentation in all cases. Immunologic findings confirmed multilineage involvement, showing sub-population of cells expressing platelet-associated markers in more than 50% of cases tested and the presence of a myelomonocytic component, besides glycophorin A-positive cells. Cytogenetically, major karyotype aberrations (MAKA), defined by the presence of three or more aberrant events in the same clone, were observed in 14 cases, minor karyotype aberrations (MIKA) were observed in four cases and normal karyotype in two cases. No differences in the cytological-cytogenetic picture of our patients with de novo EL, and with therapy-related EL were found suggesting that aetiological factors and/or pathogenetic mechanisms common to EL and secondary leukaemia may exist. All patients with MAKA had leftward shift of erythropoiesis with proerythroblasts and basophilic erythroblasts usually representing more than 50% of all erythroid cells. In patients with MIKA or normal karyotype, maturatio of erythroid cells, though morphologically abnormal, was quantitatively preserved and early erythroblasts never exceeded 25% of erythroid cells. Clinically, the haemoglobin level at presentation, as well as in the proportion of patients achieving complete remission after chemotherapy, appeared to be lower in the maturation arrest-MAKA group as compared to the preserved maturation-MIKA/normal karyotype group. Median survival was shorter in the former group (3.5 months) than in the latter (median 13 months). Morphologic-immunologic-cytogenetic studies thus allow for the identification of two distinct cytogenetic-clinicopathological types of EL.