We investigated the chimerism pattern within flow-sorted peripheral blood- or bone marrow-derived cell populations after allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (BMT) for the treatment of leukemia in children. This study was performed to define the identity of persistent host-type cells, to identify prognostic variables for the persistence of host- type hematopoiesis, and to determine the prognostic significance of the chimerism pattern on the duration of the leukemia-free interval, the overall survival, and the leukemia-free survival. The patients received either HLA-identical non-T-cell-depleted (n = 46) or HLA nonidentical T- cell-depleted (n = 7) BMT. In the peripheral blood, the children showed either stable mixed chimerism (SMC; ie, persistent host-type hematopoiesis; n = 14), (transient) mixed T-lymphoid chimerism (MTLC; n = 9), or complete chimerism (CC; n = 30). In the bone marrow, only donor-type cells were found in children with either CC (n = 8) or MTLC (n = 2), and a mixture of donor- and recipient-type cells was found in children with SMC (n = 7). The persistence of host-type hematopoiesis (SMC) was significantly related to a lower age of the recipient, the type of conditioning regimen, a lower total body irradiation dose, T- cell depletion of the bone marrow graft, and the use of cyclosporine A for acute graft-versus-host disease prophylaxis. No significant differences were found between patients with (SMC) or without (CC/MTLC) persistent host-type hematopoiesis with respect to the duration of the leukemia-free interval, the overall survival, or the leukemia-free survival. We conclude that ablation of host-type hematopoiesis is not compulsory for long-term leukemia-free survival after allogeneic BMT for various hematologic malignancies.

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