Following our initial observation of in vivo conversion of CD7+, CD4-, CD8- acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) cells from lymphoid to myeloid lineages (Proc Natl Acad Sci (USA) 81:253, 1984) we have studied eight additional cases of ALL with this leukemic cell phenotype. The CD7+, CD4-, CD8- phenotype was associated with a distinct clinical entity with those affected predominantly male (either less than 35 years or greater than 65 years of age), with frequent mediastinal and/or thymic masses, skin and CNS disease, high peripheral WBC counts, and bone marrow blasts that were morphologically L1 or not ascribable to a specific lineage. These patients did not respond to conventional chemotherapeutic regimens for either acute lymphoid or myeloid leukemias. No common karyotype or T-cell gene rearrangement pattern could be defined. Importantly, seven of eight patient's leukemic cells studied were capable of multilineage (myeloid, erythroid, monocytoid, megakaryocytoid, and lymphoid) differentiation in vitro. Data is presented suggesting that CD7+, CD4-, CD8- leukemias, in many instances, are leukemias of immature hematopoietic cells. The development of novel therapeutic approaches to this form of leukemia will be necessary to alter its poor prognosis.

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