Molecular characterization of acute myeloblastic leukemia according to the new WHO classification: a different distribution in Central-West Spain

Haematologica. 2001 Feb;86(2):162-6.


Background and objectives: Molecular analysis has contributed to the identification of several non-random chromosomal translocations, such as t(15;17), t(8:21), inv(16)/t(16;16) and 11q23 abnormalities, typically associated with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The identification of these chromosomal abnormalities helps not only to define different AML subtypes with distinct prognoses and treatments but also to monitor the disappearance of malignant cells after treatment. Recent reports suggest that the frequency of these alterations may differ according to geographic distribution. However, most of these reports focus on just one or two genetic alterations, which may lead to some selection bias. Appropriate epidemiological studies should be based on unselected consecutive series of patients in which all relevant genes are simultaneously analyzed. The aim of the present study was to explore whether or not the incidence of genetic lesions in Spanish AML patients differs from that reported in other countries.

Design and methods: In a series of 145 consecutive un-selected adult patients with AML we simultaneously analyzed the presence of 4 genetic abnormalities, PML/RARalpha for t(15;17), AML1/ETO for t(8;21), CBFbeta/MYH11 for inv(16)/t(16;16) and rearrangements of the MLL gene for 11q23 abnormalities. AML were classified using the new World Health Organization (WHO) classification for hematologic malignancies. The techniques used were standardized according to the recommendations of the European BIOMED-1 Concerted Action.

Results: The PML/RARalpha transcript was present in 34 patients (23.4%) (23 were bcr1, 2 bcr2 and 9 bcr3). The AML1/ETO fusion transcript was detected in only 2 cases (1.4%) both with M2 morphology, but 29 other cases with M2 morphology were negative. CBFbeta/MYH11 transcript was present in 9 cases (6.2%) eight of them displaying M4Eo morphology. Finally, 5 cases (3.5%) showed rearrangements of theMLL gene. Our results differ from those reported from the United States and North/Central Europe, particularly regarding the incidence of t(15;17) and t(8;21) translocations. In Spain the frequency of t(15;17) is higher while that of t(8;21) is lower.

Interpretation and conclusions: These data add epidemiological information about geographic heterogeneity of such chromosome aberrations in AML and would contribute to the design of specific screening strategies adapted to the incidence in each country.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Chromosome Aberrations / genetics*
  • Female
  • Gene Frequency
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / classification*
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / epidemiology
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / genetics*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Spain / epidemiology
  • World Health Organization