In vivo response to initial therapy, as assessed by determination of minimal residual disease after five and 12 weeks of treatment, has evolved as one of strong prognostic factors in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) treated according to the BFM regime. It is currently not known if the individual treatment response might be influenced by copy number alterations (CNA) leading to altered gene expression. We compared leukemic genomic profiles of 25 treatment sensitive (MRD-SR) and 25 resistant (MRD-HR) childhood ALL patients by means of high-resolution array-CGH. CNA were found in 46 patients (92%) of both treatment response groups. Microscopic alterations affecting the whole or nearly whole chromosome arm were frequently found, e.g. gain of 21 in 11/50, loss of 9p in 5/50, loss of 8p in 3/50, loss of 20q in 3/50 and loss of 7p in 2/50 or gain of 1q in 2/50. The most significant difference was a gain of chromosome 1q23-qter due to an unbalanced t(1;19), found in 10/25 MRD-SR patients, but in none of the MRD-HR patients (p<0.002). The most frequent CNA in the MRD-HR group were deletions of genomic regions harboring the immunoglobulin genes (Ig), e.g. 2p11.2 in 15 of 25 cases (60%) compared to 7 of 25 in the MRD-SR group (28%) (p=0.045). Combining all Ig loci, significantly more MRD-HR than MRD-SR patients were affected with deletions (17 versus 8 patients, p=0.02). The frequency of other CNA, like loss of 9p21 or gains of 21q, did not differ strongly between the two patient groups. This is the first study evaluating the clinical significance of CNA as detected by array-CGH in childhood ALL and may lead to improved risk classification.

Author notes

Disclosure:Research Funding: This work was supported by grants from the Deutsche Krebshilfe and the Kompetenznetz “Akute und Chronische Leukämien” (01GI0478).