Chronic myelogenous leukaemia
Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract Histological examination of bone marrow biopsies shows that about one-third of chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) patients exhibit an increase of megakaryocytes. The megakaryocytic predominance may be so striking that differentiation from other chronic myeloproliferative disorders (CMPD) may be difficult in some CML patients. Megakaryocytes in CML are clonal as demonstrated by loss of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase isoenzymes. The Ph translocation, fusing the abl and bcr genes on chromosomes 9 and 22, however, obviously occurs as a second step in tumour development. So far, the Ph translocation has not been assigned explicitly to megakaryocytes. The question is whether the megakaryocytic cell lineage could harbour the bcr/abl fusion in those CML cases with striking proliferation of megakaryocytes but lack this genetic defect in cases with normal or decreased megakaryocyte counts. We therefore performed triple-colour fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) for portions of the bcr and abl genes flanking the breakpoint in CML in paraffin sections of CML cases with normal and with increased numbers of megakaryocytes. This method allows identification of the bcr/abl fusion in single, morphologically intact cells, whereas conventional cytogenetics requires lysis and thus destruction of the cell. Among the 21 CML patients examined by FISH, 10 were informative for bcr and abl genes and displayed distinct hybridization signals within nuclei of bone marrow cells. Besides the granulopoietic cells, megakaryocytes of all those patients (4 without and 6 with varying grades of megakaryocytic increase) displayed bcr/abl fusion signals indiciative of a Ph translocation. The lack of hybridization signals in the remaining 11 cases indicates that this technique is not of value diagnostically and should be reserved for scientific questions. Positive controls consisted of conventional chromosome preparations from bone marrow aspirates demonstrating the Ph chromosome in all patients examined, and negative controls of paraffin sections of bone marrow biopsies from non-CML patients. These showed no fusion signals in bone marrow cells, including megakaryocytes, using FISH. Our results demonstrate clearly that not only the transforming event but also the Ph translocation leading to the bcr/abl fusion happens prior to the differentiation of the pluripotent stem cell into different myeloid lineages. The megakaryocytic proliferation evident in some CML cases is probably a consequence of the disease progress.
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