Lineage involvement by BCR/ABL in Ph+ lymphoblastic leukemias: chronic myelogenous leukemia presenting in lymphoid blast vs Ph+ acute lymphoblastic leukemia.Leukemia 1996; 10(5):795-802L
Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) can sometimes present in lymphoid blast phase (L-BP), and can be difficult to distinguish from Philadelphia chromosome-positive (Ph+) acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Some have suggested that the determination of cell lineages involved by the Ph chromosome may be used for distinguishing CML presenting in L-BP (presumably multilineage disease) from Ph+ ALL (presumably lymphoid-restricted), although others have suggested the term 'stem cell ALL' for the multilineage process. Because it has been difficult to perform lineage studies of the Ph chromosome, we investigated the use of fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) with probes for BCR (on chromosome 22) and ABL (on chromosome 9) to study lineage involvement in Ph+ lymphoblastic malignancies. We analyzed routine blood and marrow specimens from eight patients who presented with Ph+ lymphoblastic leukemia and found that FISH recognized the 9;22 translocation, distinguished between the two common molecular variants, and readily identified multilineage vs lymphoblast-restricted disease. In our series, four patients had multilineage and four had lymphoblast-restricted disease. Multilineage disease was associated with morphologic features of CML at diagnosis and/or reversion to chronic phase CML after treatment leading us to consider it as CML presenting in L-BP. Patients with lymphoid-restricted disease lacked such findings. The survival of three of our four patients with multilineage disease was prolonged, at 25, 28+, and 126+ months, and when data from our entire series are added to those of 18 previously reported cases that were studied for lineage involvement (reviewed in Leukemia 1993; 7: 147), the difference in overall survival between patients with multilineage and lymphoblast-restricted disease is significant (median overall survival of 47 months vs 8 months, respectively; P=0.013, log rank). Our findings illustrate that FISH analysis can be used to recognize lineage involvement in patients presenting with Ph+ lymphoblastic malignancies, and they provide further support to the notion that multilineage and lymphoblast-restricted disease are distinct clinically as well as biologically.