American journal of clinical pathology

Diagnostic immunophenotype of acute promyelocytic leukemia before and early during therapy with all-trans retinoic acid.

PMID 25239423


To study the immunophenotypic changes of acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) in patients who recently received all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) and to assess the diagnostic utility of flow cytometry in this setting. Flow cytometry was performed on 29 newly diagnosed APLs and 93 other acute myeloid leukemias, including 25 HLA-DR- or CD34- cases. Clinical notes from referring institutions were reviewed to assess for recent ATRA administration. Recent ATRA therapy was documented in 17 (59%) of 29 patients with APL. The main features of untreated APL were preserved with ATRA therapy, including CD34- (83% vs 82%), HLA-DR- (83% vs 100%), and CD117+ (100% vs 77%). CD11b and CD11c were negative in all untreated APLs but positive in 76% and 88% of ATRA-treated APLs, respectively. Optimal diagnostic criteria for untreated APL (CD34- or HLA-DR- and CD11b- and CD11c-) showed 100% sensitivity and 98% specificity but were not useful after ATRA administration. The best interpretative approach to ATRA-treated APL (CD34- or HLA-DR-) showed 100% sensitivity but limited specificity (73%). Information about recent ATRA administration is critical for adequate interpretation of the flow cytometric findings in patients with suspected APL.