Increasing numbers of patients with chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) treated with tyrosine kinase inhibitors achieve undetectable levels of BCR-ABL mRNA using sensitive quantitative real-time reverse transcriptase PCR (RT-qPCR) methods and a method to measure minimal residual disease (MRD) in patients with low levels could be of value. Following isolation and sequencing of the patient-specific BCR-ABL breakpoint, a DNA-based nested qPCR assay was established, and MRD was measured by this method and one-round RT-qPCR in 38 samples from 24 patients with CML. Mixing experiments using patient DNA in normal DNA indicated that DNA qPCR could detect BCR-ABL sequences at a limit of approximately 10-6. In 22 samples in which MRD was detectable by both methods, comparison of the results of DNA qPCR with the results obtained on the same sample by RT-qPCR showed good correlation. In another 16 samples, BCR-ABL mRNA was not detectable by RT-qPCR. In 8 of the 16 samples, BCR-ABL DNA was detected at levels ranging from 1.1 × 10-5 up to 2.8 × 10-4 and in the remaining eight samples BCR-ABL was not detected by either method. In one patient, who had stopped imatinib, an almost 1000-fold rise in MRD, to 5.2 × 10-4 was observed in sequential samples. Nested DNA qPCR was more sensitive than one-round RT-qPCR and could be used for the monitoring of patients with CML with very low levels of MRD.
- chronic myeloid leukaemia
- Minimal residual disease