Flow cytometry of peripheral blood and bone marrow cells from patients with hairy cell leukemia: phenotype of hairy cells, lymphocyte subsets and detection of minimal residual disease after treatment.Neoplasma. 2001; 48(5):350-7.N
By flow cytometry (FC) and an extensive panel of markers we characterized leukemia cells from the peripheral blood (PB) and bone marrow (BM) of 13 symptomatic patients with hairy cell leukemia (HCL). Hairy cells (HCs) identified in the large cell gate always expressed B-cell markers - CD19, CD20, CD22, HLA-DR, and 'HCL-restricted' markers - CD22+CD11c, CD25 and CD103. Other markers, not followed regularly, were occasionally expressed, such as CD34, CD38, CD71, CD15, CD10 and kappa/lambda light chains. Furthermore, in one patient with suspect but not proved HCL in PB or BM, neither morphologically nor immunologically, we confirmed the diagnosis of HCL. Only the immunophenotyping of splenic cells after splenectomy confirmed HCL diagnosis. Flow cytometry was repeated at 3-5 month intervals, after treatment with 2-Chlorodeoxyadenosine (CdA) or less frequently alpha-interferon (IFN). We investigated serially lymphocyte subsets after treatment and we found profound and persistent CD4+ lymphopenia in majority of studied patients after CdA treatment. Simultaneously we investigated the value of FC to detect minimal residual disease (MRD) and to establish, whether MRD+ could predict relapse. Detection of MRD in our series predicted hematological relapse only in one case with persistent MRD+, in majority of cases with occasionally found MRD+ phenotype, did not. Using quantitative immunophenotyping we observed significantly higher values of molecule numbers of hairy cell B-cell markers, comparing to B-cells in nonleukemic gate of the same sample. Our study showed 1) the diagnostic value of FC in management of HCL patients, 2) long-lasting response in the majority of patients after CdA, 3) a profound and persistent CD4+ lymphopenia in CdA treated patients, 4) some correlation between persistent MRD staining and hematological relapse, and 5) further, till now not described activated feature of HCs, given by the increased values of molecular numbers (molecules of equivalent soluble fluoresceine - MESF) in B-cell antigens of HCL.