The prognostic significance of morphological features in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia

Clin Lab Haematol. 1979;1(3):215-26. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2257.1979.tb00470.x.


A consecutive series of 209 children with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) presenting to a regional referral unit between 1970 and 1977 was studied. The following morphological features in the initial bone marrow were recorded: blast size, percentage periodic acid-Schiff (PAS) and oil-red-O (ORO) positivity, percentage of blasts with vacuoles, and acid phosphatase positivity. The blasts were also coded according to the FAB (L13) classification. When analysed separately, increasing blast size was significantly related to the length of first remission (P = 0.01). However, this was almost entirely due to its association with the FAB L2 type of disease which also had a highly significant influence on length of first remission (P less than 0.0001) independent of all other factors. Patients with L3 disease had blasts with heavy vacuolation, ORO positivity and displayed monoclonal surface immunoglobulin and their prognosis was very poor. The percentage of vacuolated blasts and ORO positivity otherwise showed no influence on prognosis. Fine granularity of PAS staining in lymphoblasts showed no prognostic value but the trend of longer remission duration with increase in percentage of PAS coarse granularity and blocks, was statistically significant (P = 0.006). This relationship was partly due to a correlation with the presence of mediastinal mass and L2 disease, but was still independent of all other prognostic factors. In a smaller number (39) of the series of patients on whom cell surface markers were available, we were unable to demonstrate a correlation between T-derived blasts and the L1 and L2 classification; but there was a strong correlation with polar acid phosphatase positivity in T-derived blasts.

MeSH terms

  • Acid Phosphatase / blood
  • B-Lymphocytes / ultrastructure
  • Bone Marrow / pathology
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Leukemia, Lymphoid / blood*
  • Leukemia, Lymphoid / pathology
  • Lymphocytes / ultrastructure*
  • Periodic Acid-Schiff Reaction
  • Prognosis
  • Rosette Formation
  • T-Lymphocytes / ultrastructure


  • Acid Phosphatase