Is it important to decipher the heterogeneity of "normal karyotype AML"?

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13 Scopus citations


Almost half of adult acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) is normal cytogenetically, and this subgroup shows a remarkable heterogeneity of genetic mutations at the molecular level and an intermediate response to therapy. The finding of recurrent cytogenetic abnormalities has influenced, in a primary way, the understanding and treatment of leukemias. Yet "normal karyotype AML" lacks such obvious abnormalities, but has a variety of prognostically important genetic abnormalities. Thus, the presence of a FLT3-ITD (internal tandem duplication), MLL-PTD (partial tandem duplication), or the increased expression of ERG or EVI1 mRNAs confer a poor prognosis, and an increased risk of relapse. In contrast, the presence of cytoplasmic nucleophosmin or C/EBPA mutations is associated with lower relapse rates and improved survival. Although resistance to treatment is associated with specific mutations, the degree to which the leukemia resembles a stem cell in its functional properties may provide greater protection from the effects of treatment. Although usually all of the circulating leukemia cells are cleared following treatment, a small residual population of leukemic cells in the bone marrow persists, making this disease hard to eradicate. Increased understanding of the biological consequences of at least some of these mutations in "normal karyotype AML" is leading to more targeted approaches to develop more effective treatments for this disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-52
Number of pages10
JournalBest Practice and Research: Clinical Haematology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • AML
  • C/EBP-α
  • cytogenetics
  • ERG
  • FLT3-ITD
  • histone deacetylase
  • methyltransferase
  • NPM
  • stem cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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