Terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase, TdT, as a marker for leukemia and lymphoma cells.

F. Campagnari, E. Bombardieri, F. de Braud, L. Baldini, A. T. Maiolo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase, TdT, was assayed in the mononucleate cells of blood and bone marrow from 121 patients with leukemias at the onset of disease and from 95 subjects with malignant lymphomas at diagnosis. This intracellular marker was also investigated by cytoimmunofluorescent tests in 17 other cases of initial leukemias and in 3 diagnosed lymphoblastic lymphomas. Generally, the TdT levels were significantly enhanced in the blasts of the following: acute undifferentiated leukemias; the more immature types of acute lymphoblastic leukemias i.e., the null, non-T non-B, common, early T and pre-B subgroups; a fraction of blastic crises in chronic myelogenous leukemias; and many lymphoblastic lymphomas. TdT might also be slightly increased in the mononucleate blood cells obtained from the most immature forms of acute myelogenous leukemias. Relapses with changes in cell phenotypes were occasionally observed in previously TdT-positive leukemias as a result of clonal evolution of the disease. The leukemias with blasts containing high levels of TdT were usually responsive to treatment with corticosteroids and vincristine. TdT is an oligoclonal marker characterizing several populations of undifferentiated or poorly differentiated blasts that tend to develop towards or along the lymphoid pathway. Together with specific immunological markers, this enzyme is useful to define the particular type of leukemic cells. It also serves to identify the quasi-lymphoblastic nature of the malignant clone, a helpful indication for the choice of therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-42
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Biological Markers
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Immunology


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