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Iqbal Z.,King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences | Iqbal Z.,University of Punjab | Iqbal Z.,University of Sargodha | Iqbal Z.,The University of Lahore | And 36 more authors.
Molecular Diagnosis and Therapy | Year: 2015

Background: Fusion oncogenes (FOs) resulting from chromosomal abnormalities have an important role in leukemogenesis in pediatric B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). The most common FOs are BCR-ABL, MLL-AF4, ETV6-RUNX1, and TCF3-PBX1, all of which have important prognostic and drug selection implications. Moreover, frequencies of FOs have ethnic variations. We studied Pakistani frequencies of FOs, clinical pattern, and outcome in pediatric B-ALL. Methods: FOs were studied in 188 patients at diagnosis using reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and interphase fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH). Data were analyzed using SPSS version 17 (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA). Results: FOs were detected in 87.2 % of patients. Mean overall survival was 70.9 weeks, 3-year survival was 31.9 %, and 3-year relapse-free survival was 18.1 %. Four patients died of drug toxicities. ETV6-RUNX1 (19.14 %) had better survival (110.9 weeks; p = 0.03); TCF3-PBX1 (2.1 %) was associated with inferior outcome and higher central nervous system (CNS) relapse risk; MLL-AF4 (18.1 %) was more common in the 8- to 15-year age group (24/34; p = 0.001) and was associated with organomegaly, low platelet count, and poor survival; and BCR-ABL (47.9 %) was associated with older age (7–15 years, 52/90), lower remission rates, shorter survival (43.73 ± 4.24 weeks) and higher white blood cell count. Overall, MLL-AF4 and BCR-ABL were detected in 66 % of B-ALL, presented in later childhood, and were associated with poor prognosis and inferior survival. Conclusions: This study reports the highest ethnic frequency of BCR-ABL FO in pediatric ALL, and is consistent with previous reports from our region. Poor prognosis BCR-ABL and MLL-AF4 was detected in two-thirds of pediatric B-ALL and is likely to be the reason for the already reported poor survival of childhood ALL in South-East Asia. Furthermore, MLL-AF4, usually most common in infants, presented in later childhood in most of the ALL patients, which was one of the unique findings in our study. The results presented here highlight the need for mandatory inclusion of molecular testing for pediatric ALL patients in clinical decision making, together with the incorporation of tyrosine kinase inhibitors, as well as hematopoietic stem cell transplantation facilities, to improve treatment outcome for patients in developing countries. © 2015, Springer International Publishing Switzerland.

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