Institute of of Hematology and Blood Transfusion
Prague, Czech Republic
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Overexpressed Wilms tumor gene 1 (WT1) has been found in a majority of patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The aim of this study was to confirm the applicability of WT1 expression measurement as a marker of minimal residual disease (MRD). The expression of WT1 gene was measured by real-time polymerase chain reaction in peripheral blood (PB) according to European Leukemia Net (ELN) recommendations. The WT1 expression was related to the expression of a reference gene Abelson (ABL) and the results were calculated as a number of WT1 copies related to 104 copies of ABL gene. The upper normal limit of WT1 expression was set at 50 copies of WT1 to 104 copies of ABL. Morphological, flow cytometry and chimerism examinations were evaluated according to standard protocols.A total of 51 AML patients with overexpressed WT1 gene were analyzed. The median follow-up after transplantation was 14 (2-72) months. WT1 expression levels exceeding the upper normal limit were considered as a sign of impending hematological relapse, in accord with morphological, flow cytometry and chimerism data, as well as with the expression of the specific fusion genes. Moreover, in 7 patients the rise of WT1 expression preceded all other standard methods. Patients with high WT1 expression before allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-HSCT) had significantly worse outcome than patients with low WT1 level. Examination of WT1 expression in PB of patients with AML is a useful tool for MRD monitoring. Moreover, the WT1 gene expression before stem cell transplantation seems to be of prognostic significance.

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