Clinical relevance of FLT3 receptor protein expression in Indian patients with acute leukemia

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Aim:FLT3 is a receptor tyrosine kinase that plays an important role in the pathogenesis of leukemia. The present study aimed to evaluate the role of FLT3 protein in patients with acute leukemia.Method:FLT3 protein was quantified by flow cytometry on leukemic blasts using CD135 antibody in 160 patients with acute leukemia.Results:We demonstrated FLT3 protein expression (>20%) in 82% of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), 60% of B-lineage acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL), 23% of T-lineage acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) and 80% of biphenotypic leukemia. Further, FLT3 expression was seen to be significantly higher in AMLM2, M4, and M5 than in AMLM3. In B-ALL, FLT3 was found to be higher in pro-B-ALL and lower in early B-ALL. A CD34 expression >20% was associated with FLT3 positive B-ALL. When correlated with disease status, all patients in the relapsed AML group had FLT3 > 20% at diagnosis. Unlike AML, the relapsed group of B-ALL showed a lower incidence of FLT3 than the remission group.Conclusion:In summary, our data imply that there is frequent overexpression of the FLT3 protein in AML and B-ALL patients of Indian origin. In future, the FLT3 protein level may be used to select patients for whom FLT3 inhibitor therapy may be indicated.

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