A panel of commercially available monoclonal antibodies and five heteroantisera were used to distinguish and subtype 138 cases of acute leukemia (AL). The immunophenotype was compared with the French- American-British (FAB) classification obtained on the cases. The immunophenotype discriminated acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) from acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and recognized cases not distinguished by cytochemistry (22% of cases), mixed lineage phenotypes (13% of cases), and cases with separate populations of lymphoblasts and myeloblasts (one case). Using the immunologic panel and derived criteria to subtype AML, correspondence of the immunophenotype to the FAB subtypes M1, M2, M4, and M5 was possible in greater than 80% of cases. A combined classification of the immunophenotype and FAB morphology/cytochemistry was devised for AML subtyping. It is recommended that immunophenotyping should be done at least in all cases with negative orinconclusive cytochemistry. At present, we suggest that until a “gold standard” for identifying leukemic subtypes is developed, the best method for typing acute leukemia is by using a combination of morphology, cytochemistry and immunophenotyping.

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