We have developed a competitive polymerase chain reaction (PCR) titration assay that estimates the number of BCR-ABL transcripts in chronic myeloid leukemia patients to monitor minimal residual disease after bone marrow transplantation (BMT). The assay gave reproducible results and allowed differences in BCR-ABL message levels of half an order of magnitude to be distinguished. Of 91 patients studied by nonquantitative PCR, 28 who had a positive PCR result on at least one occasion posttransplant were analyzed by competitive PCR. Seventeen patients had no evidence in their marrow of cytogenetic relapse during the period of observation; BCR-ABL transcript numbers in these cases ranged from approximately 10 to 800/micrograms RNA. Ten of the 11 patients who relapsed cytogenetically were studied when Philadelphia- positive metaphases were first detected in their marrow; transcript numbers ranged from 1,600 to 7 x 10(5)/micrograms RNA. Patients in hematologic relapse had between 9 x 10(4) and 10(6) BCR-ABL transcripts/micrograms RNA. Patients who progressed from cytogenetic remission to cytogenetic relapse and then to hematologic relapse had increasing numbers of BCR-ABL transcripts in their blood. Three patients had clear evidence of rising numbers of BCR-ABL transcripts before routine detection of cytogenetic relapse. Conversely patients without cytogenetic relapse generally had low or falling numbers of transcripts. We conclude that serial monitoring of residual disease post-BMT by estimating the number of BCR-ABL transcripts provides more information than conventional cytogenetics or nonquantitative PCR and may identify patients in need of therapeutic intervention before the onset of overt relapse.
Competitive polymerase chain reaction to estimate the number of BCR-ABL transcripts in chronic myeloid leukemia patients after bone marrow transplantation
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NC Cross, L Feng, A Chase, J Bungey, TP Hughes, JM Goldman; Competitive polymerase chain reaction to estimate the number of BCR-ABL transcripts in chronic myeloid leukemia patients after bone marrow transplantation. Blood 1993; 82 (6): 1929–1936. doi: https://doi.org/10.1182/blood.V82.6.1929.bloodjournal8261929
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