British Journal of Haematology vol:87 issue:3 pages:515-22
Morphological, immunological and cytogenetic features were studied in 27 adults presenting with Ph chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), in correlation with clinical outcome. Twenty patients (group 1) were diagnosed as having typical ALL according to the FAB criteria supported by immunological findings. Less than 1% blast cells with azurophilic granules were detected in all cases. Myeloid cytochemistry, i.e. peroxidase and Sudan black-B stain, was negative in all cases. A minor phenotype deviation consisting of the expression of the CD13 myeloid-associated marker was detected in two patients. In seven patients (group 2) a diagnosis of ALL with a minor myeloid component was made because of the presence of a majority of lymphoid blasts and of 5-15% blast cells with morphological cytochemical and immunological features of the myeloid lineage. Abnormal metaphases were found in 6/20 (30%) patients in group 1, compared with 7/7 (100%) patients in group 2. All patients were treated by antilymphoid regimens; however, complete remission was achieved in 17/20 (85%) patients in group 1 versus 1/7 (14.3%) patients in group 2. Median survival was 16 months, range < 1-120+ in group 1 and 9 months, range < 1-15 in group 2. It is concluded that morphological, immunological and cytogenetic studies allow for the recognition of two cytological subsets of Ph+ ALL. The presence of a minor myeloid component in otherwise typical Ph chromosome-positive ALL may be associated with a distinct cytogenetic pattern and poor responses to antilymphoid therapy.