Mutations of the BCR-ABL-kinase domain occur in a minority of patients with stable complete cytogenetic response to imatinib
Drug Resistance, Neoplasm
Fusion Proteins, bcr-abl
Leukemia, Myelogenous, Chronic, BCR-ABL Positive
Protein Kinase Inhibitors
Residual leukemia is demonstrable by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction in most patients with chronic myeloid leukemia who obtain a complete cytogenetic response (CCR) to imatinib. In patients who relapse during imatinib therapy, a high rate of mutations in the kinase domain of BCR-ABL have been identified, but the mechanisms underlying disease persistence in patients with a CCR are poorly characterized. To test whether kinase domain mutations are a common mechanism of disease persistence, we studied patients in stable CCR. Mutations were demonstrated in eight of 42 (19%) patients with successful amplification and sequencing of BCR-ABL. Mutation types were those commonly associated with acquired drug resistance. Four patients with mutations had a concomitant rise of BCR-ABL transcript levels, two of whom subsequently relapsed; the remaining four did not have an increase in transcript levels and follow-up samples, when amplifiable, were wild type. BCR-ABL-kinase domain mutations in patients with a stable CCR are infrequent, and their detection does not consistently predict relapse. Alternative mechanisms must be responsible for disease persistence in the majority of patients.