Different cellular drug resistance profiles in childhood lymphoblastic and non-lymphoblastic leukemia: A preliminary report

G. J.L. Kaspers, G. Kardos, R. Pieters, C. H. Van Zantwijk, E. Klumper, K. Hählen, F. C. De Waal, E. R. Van Wering, A. J.P. Veerman

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The better prognosis of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) than of acute non-lymphoblastic leukemia (ANLL) in children, and the often observed better prognosis of myeloid-antigen (MyAg) negative ALL than of MyAg-positive ALL, may be related to differences in cellular drug resistance. We therefore compared the resistance to 12 drugs of 125 ALL and 28 ANLL samples with the MTT assay. ALL samples were median > 75-fold more sensitive to the glucocorticoids prednisolone and dexamethasone (p < 0.00001), and 2-fold more sensitive to vincristine (p = 0.05) than ANLL samples. Differences for the other drugs were not significant. MyAg-negative ALL samples were more sensitive to glucocorticoids than MyAg-positive ALL-samples (p ≤ 0.04). Prednisolone, and dexamethasone if tested, had a stimulatory effect on leukemic cell survival in 36% of ANLL, but in only 2% of ALL samples (p < 0.0001). Vincristine, and vindesine if tested, had a similar effect in 11% of ANLL, and in 4% of ALL samples (p = 0.11). We conclude that the more favorable response of ALL against ANLL to combination chemotherapy in children may be explained by the higher antileukemic activity of glucocorticoids and of vincristine in ALL, while none of the drugs was more active in ANLL. Similarly, the better prognosis of MyAg-negative ALL than of MyAg-positive ALL may be explained by a relative sensitivity to glucocorticoids. Glucocorticoids and vinca-alkaloids induced leukemia cell proliferation in part of the samples, most frequently in ANLL. The findings may be useful in the design of new chemotherapeutic regimens for ALL and ANLL.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1224-1229
Number of pages6
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1994

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