The prognostic value of WT1 mRNA expression in pediatric acute myeloid leukemia (AML) remains controversial. A sample of newly diagnosed (n = 158) AML patients from the Japanese Childhood AML Cooperative Treatment Protocol, AML 99, were simultaneously analyzed for WT1 expression, cytogenetic abnormalities and gene alterations (FLT3, KIT, MLL, and RAS). WT1 expression (including more than 2,500 copies/μgRNA) was detected in 122 of the 158 (77.8%) initial diagnostic AML bone marrow samples (median 45,500 copies/μgRNA). Higher WT1 expression was detected in French American British (FAB)-M0, M3, M7 and lower expression in M4 and M5. Higher WT1 expression was detected in AML with inv(16), t(15;17) and Down syndrome and lower in AML with 11q23 abnormalities. Multivariate analyses demonstrated that FLT3-internal tandem duplication (ITD), KIT mutation, MLL-partial tandem duplication were correlated with poor prognosis; however, higher WT1 expression was not. FLT3-ITD was correlated with WT1 expression and prognosis. Furthermore, 74 WT1 expression after induction chemotherapy was analyzed. Higher WT1 expression after induction chemotherapy was significantly correlated with M1 or M2/M3 marrow, FLT3-ITD and poor prognosis. Multivariate analyses in 74 AML patients revealed that FLT3-ITD, MLL-PTD, and KIT mutations were associated with poor prognosis; however, NRAS Mutation, KRAS mutation and high WT1 expression (>10,000 copies/μgRNA) did not show poor prognosis. Our findings suggest that higher WT1 expression at diagnosis does not correlate with poor prognosis, but that WT1 expression after induction chemotherapy is considered to be a useful predictor of clinical outcome in pediatric AML.
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