When compared to older patients, infants with acute leukemia exhibit distinct cytogenetic features, such as higher prevalence of MLL gene rearrangement (MLL-R), and are known to have higher vulnerability to intensive cytotoxic therapy, such as hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. In contrast to acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), there have been few reports on acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in infants. To develop more appropriate therapeutic strategies for infants with AML, it is necessary to elucidate the distinct clinical features of this subgroup. We therefore performed a retrospective analysis on infant AML in Japan. Patients: Infants with AML, aged less than 1 year at diagnosis, registered in any of the 6 Japanese AML clinical trials between 1991 and 2010 (TCCSG M91-13, TCCSG M96-14, AML99, CCLSG9805, CCLSG9805RE, and JPLSG AML-05) were included in this study. Patients with Down syndrome were excluded. Results: A total of 122 infant AML patients were included in the present analysis, which comprised approximately 10% of all pediatric AML patients. The most frequent FAB classification type was M5 (28.7%), followed by M7 (22.9%) and M4 (10.8%). About 30% of patients had 11q23 abnormalities/MLL -R, but there was no impact on prognosis. Several cases with normal karyotype were revealed to be MLL -R on FISH analysis or on MLL -fusion chimeric transcript analysis by RT-PCR. t(8;21), inv(16) and t(15;17) cases were very rare among the infant cohorts. Furthermore, 7.8% had t(1;22)(p13;q13), and 2.5% had t(7;12)(q36;p13). Genetic mutation results could be obtained in 11 cases in the AML99 study; only one case each was confirmed to have NRAS, KRAS or KIT gene mutation. No cases with FLT3-ITD were detected among the 11 cases in the AML99 or the 44 cases in the AML-05 study. Survival rate varied based on treatment received; 5-year OS rate was 58.3% to 71.4%, and 5-year EFS rate was 49.4% to 64.2%. Discussion: Survival rate in infant AML was identical to that in older pediatric AML. However, there was a possible underestimation of MLL -R patients based on sole chromosome analysis; the prevalence of MLL -R was less than 50% in infant AML patients, without any prognostic impact. Other well-known genetic alterations in pediatric AML also had no effect on outcome of infant AML. Infant AML is a heterogeneous subgroup of pediatric AML, and further studies, as well as novel biomarkers, will be necessary to fully understand its biology.
No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.
Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.