Cellular DNA content as a predictor of response to chemotherapy in infants with unresectable neuroblastoma

N Engl J Med. 1984 Jul 26;311(4):231-5. doi: 10.1056/NEJM198407263110405.


We studied the relation between the DNA content of neuroblastoma cells and the response to therapy in 35 infants under one year of age with a diagnosis of neuroblastoma. Using flow cytometric techniques, we found that in 27 cases the primary malignant stem line consisted of neuroblasts with hyperdiploid DNA content, ranging from 1.07 to 2.42 times the finding in normal diploid cells. All remaining cases had diploid stem lines. Diploidy was more common in infants with clinical Stage D neuroblastoma (metastases beyond regional lymph nodes) than in those with other, less advanced stages: 6 of 10 as compared with 2 of 25 (P = 0.003). Of 17 evaluable patients with unresectable hyperdiploid tumors, 15 had complete responses and two had partial responses to cyclophosphamide and doxorubicin; six others with diploid tumors did not respond (P = 0.00001). We also found that each of the four infants with Evans' Stage IV-S neuroblastoma, an unusual form of disseminated neuroblastoma with a relatively good prognosis, had hyperdiploid tumor cells of clonal origin. We conclude that in neuroblastoma of infants, hyperdiploidy of tumor cells is associated with a better response to chemotherapy than is diploidy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cyclophosphamide / therapeutic use
  • DNA, Neoplasm / analysis*
  • Diploidy
  • Doxorubicin / therapeutic use
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Neuroblastoma / diagnosis
  • Neuroblastoma / drug therapy*
  • Neuroblastoma / pathology
  • Prognosis


  • DNA, Neoplasm
  • Doxorubicin
  • Cyclophosphamide