Quantitative assessment of WT1 expression by real time quantitative PCR may be a useful tool for monitoring minimal residual disease in acute leukemia patients

Leukemia. 2002 Oct;16(10):2115-21. doi: 10.1038/sj.leu.2402675.


In order to verify if quantitative assessment of the WT1 transcript amount by the real time quantitative PCR (RQ-PCR) can be used as a marker for minimal residual disease detection, the WT1 transcript amount was determined in BM and PB samples of patients with myeloid and lymphoid acute leukemia, in normal controls, in regenerating bone marrow samples and in purified CD34-positive cells from normal subjects. In 10 patients bearing a fusion gene transcript suitable for minimal residual disease quantitative assessment, we performed a simultaneous analysis of the WT1 and of the fusion-gene transcript at sequential time intervals during follow-up. Sequential WT1 analysis was also performed in five AML patients lacking additional molecular markers. The data obtained show that normal and regenerating BM samples and purified CD34-positive cells consistently express minimal amounts of WT1 transcript and that this is extremely low and frequently undetectable in normal PB. By contrast, high levels of WT1 expression are present in the BM and PB samples of all acute leukemia (AL) cases at diagnosis. The WT1 levels during follow-up were found to follow the pattern of the other molecular markers (fusion gene transcripts) used for MRD monitoring and increased WT1expression in the BM and/or PB during follow-up of AL patients was always found to be predictive of an impending hematological relapse.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • DNA Primers
  • Genetic Markers
  • Humans
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / genetics*
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / pathology
  • Neoplasm, Residual*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods*
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / genetics*
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / pathology
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • WT1 Proteins / genetics*


  • DNA Primers
  • Genetic Markers
  • RNA, Messenger
  • WT1 Proteins