Sources of error in measurement of minimal residual disease in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia

Sue Latham, Elizabeth Hughes, Bradley Budgen, Francoise Mechinaud, Catherine Crock, Henry Ekert, Peter Campbell, Alexander Morley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction: The level of minimal residual disease (MRD) in marrow predicts outcome and guides treatment in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) but accurate prediction depends on accurate measurement. Methods: Forty-one children with ALL were studied at the end of induction. Two samples were obtained from each iliac spine and each sample was assayed twice. Assay, sample and side-to-side variation were quantified by analysis of variance and presumptively incorrect decisions related to high-risk disease were determined using the result from each MRD assay, the mean MRD in the patient as the measure of the true value, and each of 3 different MRD cut-off levels which have been used for making decisions on treatment. Results: Variation between assays, samples and sides each differed significantly from zero and the overall standard deviation for a single MRD estimation was 0.60 logs. Multifocal residual disease seemed to be at least partly responsible for the variation between samples. Decision errors occurred at a frequency of 13–14% when the mean patient MRD was between 10−2 and 10−5. Decision errors were observed only for an MRD result within 1 log of the cut-off value used for assessing high risk. Depending on the cut-off used, 31–40% of MRD results were within 1 log of the cut-off value and 21–16% of such results would have resulted in a decision error. Conclusion: When the result obtained for the level of MRD is within 1 log of the cut-off value used for making decisions, variation in the assay and/or sampling may result in a misleading assessment of the true level of marrow MRD. This may lead to an incorrect decision on treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0185556
Number of pages10
JournalPLoS One
Volume12
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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