The lineage affinity of 57 cases of acute unclassified leukemias (AUL) was reevaluated by ultrastructural analysis of peroxidase expression (POEM) in combination with immunophenotyping and analysis of immunoglobulin gene configuration. Twenty-three cases of myeloid and three cases of megakaryocytic differentiation were identified by detection of ultrastructural myeloperoxidase (UMPO) and platelet peroxidase (UPPO). No significant correlation was noted between myeloid marker expression and POEM positivity, whereas presence of CD 19 or CD 24 antigen significantly correlated with POEM negativity (P = .001 and .023, respectively). Ig gene rearrangements including oligoclonal patterns were also recorded in 8 of 14 UMPO+ patients tested. Fourteen UMPO+ patients responded poorly to an ALL/AUL chemotherapy regimen with a low complete remission (CR) rate of 29% and a short median remission duration (MRD) of 5 months. The POEM- patients proved very heterogenous with respect to immunophenotype and Ig gene rearrangement. Seventeen of 21 patients tested had Ig gene rearrangements, including oligoclonal patterns. Combined data suggest that a proportion of these cases probably derive from a very immature lymphoid progenitor cell, particularly because 15 POEM- AUL patients showed a response to ALL/AUL chemotherapy comparable to that observed in patients with definitive acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) (CR rate 80%, MRD 20 months). Thus, ultrastructural analysis of peroxidase expression can provide decisive prognostic information in AUL patients.

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