Interferon-α protects Philadelphia-negative progenitors from exhaustion in chronic myeloid leukemia patients with cytogenetic response

F. Frassoni, M. Podesta, G. Piaggio, V. Rosti, A. Pitto, M. Soracco, O. Figari, F. Vassallo, G. Fugazza, G. Bergamaschi, A. Bacigalupo, M. Sessarego, M. Cazzola

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Introduction: Normal immature hematopoietic progenitors are relatively well preserved in most patients newly diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia, but tend to decline rapidly with time. Such exhaustion could reflect a suppressive effect of the Philadelphia positive clone expansion and/or be induced by Interferon-α treatment. Patients and methods: A total of 51 CML patients were classified into three groups. Newly diagnosed untreated patients were group A (n=30). Of the 21 treated individuals with Interferon-α, for at least 12 months, 15 showed no cytogenetic response (group B) while six showed persisting major/complete response (group C). Patients belonging to groups A and B were mobilized with chemotherapy plus G-CSF while patients of group C received a short course of G-CSF only. Results: Patients responding to IFN-α (group C) showed comparable numbers of bone marrow Ph - long-term culture initiating cells to those of newly diagnosed individuals (group A): 8.5 (6 MNC vs 10.5 (- LTC-IC collected was significantly lower in patients of group B 1.8 (0-325) × 10 2/kg than in patients of either group A 31.3 (0-952) × 10 2/kg (P2/kg (P+ metaphases, but Ph - progenitors in their bone marrow, mobilized normal amounts of Ph - progenitors. Conclusion: These findings suggest that the decline of normal hematopoietic progenitors, currently observed in the majority of CML patients, is not induced by IFN-α treatment, but it is likely due to the expanding leukemic clone. They also indicate that normal hematopoietic reservoir is consistently preserved in patients given IFN-α early after diagnosis and achieving a stable cytogenetic response.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-32
Number of pages7
JournalHematology Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • CFC
  • CML
  • Hematopoiesis
  • Interferon
  • LTC-IC
  • Ph

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology


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