The corner stone of the WHO classification and prognostic scores of myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) is the blast count in bone marrow. The standard cytology evaluation of at least 500 bone marrow cells is easy to perform, but some concerns arise about reproducibility of this method. Nowadays bone marrow trephine biopsy and flow cytometry are frequently considered for the diagnosis of MDS. However there is so far paucity of data comparing cytology, histology and flow cytometry in quantifying bone marrow blasts in order to differentiate non RAEB from BAEB-I and RAEB-II cases.
The Aim of the work was to analyse the differences and the prognostic impact of cytology, histology and flow cytometry in differentiating non RAEB from BAEB-I and RAEB-II.
Since 1999, clinical and laboratory data from 1256 new cases of MDS were prospectively recorded into the Piemonte MDS Registry. Blast count could be performed with the three different methods: BMC (bone marrow cytology) has been performed in 844 cases, BMH (bone marrow histology) in 874 cases, and BMF (bone marrow flow cytometry) in 636. In order to quantify blasts, immune-histochemistry evaluation of CD34+ cells was used in BMH, while both CD34+ and CD117+ cells were considered in BMF. Out of the total of the 636 patients analysed by BMF only 420 had an accurate and complete registration of CD34 and CD117 positivity and were considered for the present analysis. In two hundred and thirty six cases all three evaluations were contemporary available. The concordance of each diagnostic method with the others and their prognostic value were evaluated in both univariate and multivariate analyses. A comparison between BMC and BMH was available in 571 cases, between BMC and BMF in 228 cases, and between BMH and BMF in 279 cases.
The disagreement in classifying patients as non-RAEB or RAEB-I or RAEB-II between BMC and BMH was 156/571 (27%), with BMH over-evaluating blasts in 114/571 cases (20%) and under-evaluating blasts in 42/571 cases (7%). The disagreement between BMC and BMF was 80/228 (35%), with BMF over-evaluating and under-evaluating blast percentage in comparison to BMC in 53/228 (23%) and in 27/228 (12%) cases respectively. The disagreement between BMH and BMF was present in 113/279 (41%), with BMF over-evaluating and under-evaluating blast percentage in comparison to BMH in 44/279 (16%) and in 69/279 (25%) cases respectively. In univariate analysis all three methods of quantifing blasts and differentiating non-RAEB from RAEB-I and RAEB-II retained an important prognostic value for both leukemic evolution and survival. However when the three models were tested in multivariate analysis in order to define the best predictor of leukemic evolution, BMC retained the best predictive value.
When BMH or BMF are used instead of BMC in order differentiate non-RAEB from RAEB-I and RAEB-II, the shift to a different WHO category is evident in at least 30% of patients and BMH and BMF do not play the same role as BMC. BMC still remain the standard method to quantify blasts for classification and prognostic evaluation of MDS.
Off Label Use: Lenalidomide in Mantle Cell Lymphoma. Boccadoro:Celgene: Consultancy, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees, Research Funding; Janssen-Cilag: Consultancy, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees, Research Funding. Saglio:Novartis: Consultancy, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees, Research Funding, Speakers Bureau; Bristol Myers Squibb: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees, Speakers Bureau.
Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.