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Rigshospitalet - a part of Copenhagen University Hospital

Flow Cytometric Detection of Malignant Blasts in Cerebrospinal Fluid: A Biomarker of Central Nervous System Involvement in Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

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Despite the excellent prognosis for children and adolescents with acute lymphoblastic lymphoma (ALL), the involvement of the central nervous system (CNS) represents a major therapeutic challenge. Patients who develop CNS relapse have a very poor prognosis, and since current methods cannot reliably identify patients with CNS involvement or patients at high risk of CNS relapse, all children with ALL receive CNS-directed treatment. The current golden standard for detecting CNS involvement is the assessment of cytomorphology on cytospin slides of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). This technique is inadequate due to low sensitivity and reproducibility. Flow cytometric analysis of CSF represent a novel, highly specific and sensitive technique for the detection of leukemic cells in the CNS. In prospective studies, CSF flow cytometry demonstrated two to three times higher rates of CNS involvement at diagnosis of childhood ALL than conventional cytospin, and especially demonstrated superior sensitivity in detecting low-level CNS disease. CNS involvement determined via flow cytometry has been linked to a higher risk of CNS relapse and poor outcomes in several studies. In this review, we discuss the central analytical concepts of CSF flow cytometry and summarize the current evidence supporting the use of flow cytometric detection of malignant blasts as a biomarker of CNS involvement in childhood ALL.

Original languageEnglish
Article number813
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jun 2022

ID: 79006921