Indexed on: 27 Aug '13Published on: 27 Aug '13Published in: Haematologica
Three distinct immature T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia entities have been described including cases that express an early T-cell precursor immunophenotype or expression profile, immature MEF2C-dysregulated T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia cluster cases based on gene expression analysis (immature cluster) and cases that retain non-rearranged TRG@ loci. Early T-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia cases exclusively overlap with immature cluster samples based on the expression of early T-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia signature genes, indicating that both are featuring a single disease entity. Patients lacking TRG@ rearrangements represent only 40% of immature cluster cases, but no further evidence was found to suggest that cases with absence of bi-allelic TRG@ deletions reflect a distinct and even more immature disease entity. Immature cluster/early T-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia cases are strongly enriched for genes expressed in hematopoietic stem cells as well as genes expressed in normal early thymocyte progenitor or double negative-2A T-cell subsets. Identification of early T-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia cases solely by defined immunophenotypic criteria strongly underestimates the number of cases that have a corresponding gene signature. However, early T-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia samples correlate best with a CD1 negative, CD4 and CD8 double negative immunophenotype with expression of CD34 and/or myeloid markers CD13 or CD33. Unlike various other studies, immature cluster/early T-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia patients treated on the COALL-97 protocol did not have an overall inferior outcome, and demonstrated equal sensitivity levels to most conventional therapeutic drugs compared to other pediatric T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia patients.