To diagnose juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML) is sometimes challenging, because around 10% of patients lack molecular abnormalities affecting Ras-MAPK (mitogen-activated protein kinase) pathway and other diseases such as cytomegalovirus infection can mimic clinical signs of JMML. In order to validate a phospho-specific flow cytometry assay assessing phospho-signal transducer and activator of transcription factor 5 (p-STAT5) as a new diagnostic tool for JMML, we examined 22 samples from children with JMML and 47 controls. CD33+/CD34+ cells from 22 patients with JMML showed hyperphosphorylation of STAT5 induced by sub-saturating doses of granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF). Using a training set of samples (11 JMML and 23 controls), we identified a threshold for p-STAT5-positive after stimulation with 0.1 ng/ml GM-CSF (17.17%) that discriminates JMML from controls. This threshold was validated in an independent series (11 JMML, 24 controls and 7 cases with diseases other than JMML) where we demonstrated that patients with JMML could be distinguished from other subjects with a sensitivity of 91% (confidence interval (CI) 59-100%) and a specificity of 87% (CI 70-96%). Positive and negative predictive values were 71% (CI 42-92%) and 96% (CI 82-100%), respectively. In conclusion, flow cytometric p-STAT5 profiling is a reliable diagnostic tool for identifying patients with JMML and can contribute to consistency of current diagnostic criteria.
- Juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia
- Phospho-specific flow cytometry
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