A monoclonal antibody (LICR.LON.R10) specific for the major sialoglycoprotein of the erythroid cell membrane, glycophorin A (alpha), has been used to test the possibility that “cryptic” erythroleukemia may be diagnosed as acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) or acute myeloblastic leukemia (AML). In addition to 27 overt erythroleukemias, 724 leukemias, including 329 ALL (103 in relapse), 205 AML, and 109 blast crises of Ph1-positive chronic myeloid leukemia, were analyzed. Twenty cases with a significant proportion of glycophorin-A-positive (gA+) cells were found; 8 of these (5 AML and 3 blast crises of chronic myeloid leukemia, CML) had an obvious erythroid component, but 12 others were diagnosed as AML (2), AMML (1), CML in myeloid blast crisis (4) or megakaryoblastic blast crisis (1), acute megakaryoblastic leukemia (2), or acute lymphoblastic leukemia (2). The latter two patients had no immunologic evidence supporting a diagnosis of ALL and were resistant to chemotherapy. We conclude that AML and ALL only very rarely express gA, and these are probably genuine “cryptic” erythroleukemias. Other gA+ leukemias (megakaryoblastic and CML blast crises) may arise from bi- or pluripotent stem cells and contain distinct and separable blast cell populations.

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