British Journal of Haematology, 92, 673- 680

Secondary acute leukaemias with 11q23 rearrangement: clinical, cytogenetic, FISH and FICTION studies

Y. Zhang, M. Poetsch, K. Weber-Matthiesen, K. Rhode, M. Winkemann, T. Haferlach, W. Gassmann, W.-D. Ludwig, W. Grote, H. Löffler, B. Schlegelberger

Three patients with secondary acute leukaemia after treatment with topoisomerase II inhibitor agents are described. Two patients had acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). FAB M5a, one had pro-B-acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL). The interval between initiation of chemotherapy and the onset of secondary acute leukaemia was 19-20 months. 11q23 rearrangements were detected in all cases. They were due to translocations t(11;19) (q23;p13.3), t(11;16)(q23;p13) and t(4;11)(q21;q23), respectively. Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) with Yeast Artificial Chromosome (YAC) probe 13HH4 spanning the ALL-1 gene on 11q23 confirmed that in each case the ALL-1 gene had been disrupted by the translocations. The study underlined the relationship between the development of secondary acute leukaemias with 11q23 rearrangement and previous chemotherapy with topisomerase II inhibitor agents. So far, however, only six adult patients with secondary ALL with t(4;11) after treatment with topoisomerase II inhibitor agents have been reported. All with t(4;11) mostly occurs in infants or young children. Our patient received epirubicin continuously for >19 months. This indicates that both myeloid and lymphoid leukaemias with involvement of the ALL-1 gene can be induced by exogenous agents, especially topoisomerase II inhibitors. Thus they may have a common biological background. This hypothesis was substantiated by means of combined immunophenotyping and FISH (FICTION). In the case of AML M5a with t(11;19), the tumour cells with ALL-1 rearrangement expressed CD34. Moreover, the pro-B-ALL with t(4;11) was CD34 positive. These findings suggest that the cell of origin of secondary AML and ALL with 11q23 rearrangement is an immature haemopoietic progenitor cell.

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