We used in situ hybridization with a probe for the X chromosome to study interphase cells of bone marrow and peripheral blood specimens from a male patient with acute lymphoblastic leukemia characterized by hyperdiploidy, including trisomy X. In a posttreatment bone marrow specimen, which was interpreted as a regenerating bone marrow morphologically and which demonstrated a normal karyotype cytogenetically, trisomy X was found in 16 of 1,000 interphase cells. This finding indicated the presence of leukemic cells that were undetected by conventional morphologic and cytogenetic techniques (ie, minimal residual disease). Cytogenetic studies of a relapse specimen obtained after a sex-mismatched bone marrow transplant showed only a normal female karyotype in each of 40 metaphase cells, suggesting that the relapse occurred in donor cells. However, interphase analysis demonstrated trisomy X in more than 80% of interphase cells and indicated that the relapse was of the original clone and was not a transformation of donor cells. This case illustrates that interphase analysis can be useful as an adjunct to conventional cytogenetic analysis in the detection of minimal residual disease and in the analysis of interphase cells that are not accessible to routine cytogenetic methods. It also illustrates that previously reported instances of relapse of leukemia in donor cells could have been incorrect if supported by cytogenetic data alone.

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