Introduction: WT1 overexpression is described in several oncological diseases including acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Quantification of WT1 in bone marrow samples may be useful as a marker of minimal residual disease (MRD) and may predict the relapse of AML after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT). Methods and results: The quantitative expression of WT1 was measured in 38 AML patients (16 males and 22 females) at diagnosis, at the time of transplant and after the allogeneic HSCT (at precise time points). All cases showed high WT1 expression levels at diagnosis with a mean of 4189 (SD 3325) and a median of 3495 (range 454-13923) copies WT1/104Abl. At transplant, 25 patients (66%) were in complete cytologic remission (CcR) and 13 (34%) had refractory or relapsed AML. Bone marrow samples from patients transplanted in CcR showed significantly lower WT1 expression levels during HSCT compared with the samples from patients with a relapsed or refractory AML (P = 0.004). After HSCT, a rapid decline in WT1 expression levels was observed in all patients who attained or maintained a condition of CcR. Six of 38 patients (13%) relapsed after HSCT and all of them had an increase in WT1 expression at/or before relapse. Five of these six patients died of leukemia and one was successfully reinduced with donor lymphocyte infusion (DLI) + chemotherapy with a rapid reduction of WT1 levels. Besides, we found a complete concordance between WT1 expression levels and other disease markers (when available). Conclusions: In our experience, there was a complete concordance between WT1 expression levels (measured by quantitative RT-PCR at precise time points) and status of AML before and after allogeneic HSCT. WT1 may be useful as a non-specific leukemia marker for monitoring MRD and as a predictor of AML clinical relapse. Based on these results, cases with increase of WT1 levels after HSCT and without graft vs. host disease may be candidate to discontinuation of immunosuppression and/or DLI therapy. © 2008 The Authors.
Quantitative assessment of WT1 gene expression after allogeneic stem cell transplantation is a useful tool for monitoring minimal residual disease in acute myeloid leukemia / Candoni, A.; Tiribelli, M.; Toffoletti, E.; Cilloni, D.; Chiarvesio, A.; Michelutti, A.; Simeone, E.; Pipan, C.; Saglio, G.; Fanin, R.. - In: EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF HAEMATOLOGY. - ISSN 0902-4441. - 82:1(2009), pp. 61-68. [10.1111/j.1600-0609.2008.01158.x]