The number of patients diagnosed with hereditary hemolytic anemia (HHA) has increased since the advent of novel diagnostic techniques that accurately identify this disorder. Here, we report data from a survey on the prevalence and characteristics of patients diagnosed with HHA in Korea from 2007 to 2011.
Information on patients diagnosed with HHA in Korea and their clinical and laboratory results were collected using a survey questionnaire. Globin gene and red blood cell (RBC) enzyme analyses were performed. In addition, we analyzed data collected by pediatricians.
In total, 195 cases of HHA were identified. Etiologies identified for HHA were RBC membranopathies, hemoglobinopathies, and RBC enzymopathies, which accounted for 127 (64%), 39 (19.9%), and 26 (13.3%) cases, respectively. Of the 39 patients with hemoglobinopathies, 26 were confirmed by globin gene analysis, including 20 patients with β-thalassemia minor, 5 patients with α-thalassemia minor, and 1 patient with unstable hemoglobin disease.
The number of patients diagnosed with hemoglobinopathies and RBC enzymopathies has increased considerably since the previous survey on HHA in Korea, dated from 1997 to 2006. This is likely the result of improved diagnostic techniques. Nevertheless, there is still a need for more sensitive diagnostic tests utilizing flow cytometry and for better standardization of test results to improve the accuracy of diagnosis of RBC membranopathies in Korea. Additionally, more accurate assays for the identification of RBC enzymopathies are warranted.
Congenital hemolytic anemia; Hereditary spherocytosis; Thalassemia; Congenital nonspherocytic anemia
The prognostic impact of the presence of differentiating neuroblasts in bone marrow (BM) remains unclear in BM metastatic neuroblastoma (NB). We aimed to identify the prognostic impact of differentiating neuroblasts in BM at diagnosis and after chemotherapy.
A total of 51 patients diagnosed with BM metastatic NB at Asan Medical Center between January 1990 and July 2005 were enrolled. BM histology and laboratory data along with overall survival (OS) were compared with regard to the differentiation status of neuroblasts in BM at diagnosis and after chemotherapy.
Among the 51 patients, 13 (25.5%) exhibited differentiating neuroblasts in BM at diagnosis and 17/51 (33.3%) exhibited them after chemotherapy. The only significant difference among patient groups was the improved OS in patients with differentiated neuroblasts in BM at diagnosis (P=0.021). In contrast, the differentiation status of neuroblasts in BM after chemotherapy did not affect OS (P=0.852).
Our study is the first report describing the presence of differentiating neuroblasts in BM. The presence of differentiating neuroblasts in BM at diagnosis may be a favorable prognostic factor for patients with BM metastatic NB; however, the same phenomenon after chemotherapy is irrelevant to prognosis.
Differentiating neuroblasts; Neuroblastoma; Bone marrow; Metastasis; Prognosis
Gelsolin and matrix metalloproteinase 12 (MMP12) expression has been reported in Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH), but the clinical significance of this expression is unknown. We investigated the associations of these proteins with clinical manifestations in patients diagnosed with LCH.
We performed a retrospective analysis of clinical data from patients diagnosed with LCH and followed up between 1998 and 2008. Available formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded specimens were used for gelsolin and MMP12 immunohistochemical staining. We analyzed the expression levels of these proteins and their associations with LCH clinical features.
Specimens from 36 patients (20 males, 16 females) with a diagnosis of LCH based on CD1a positivity with clinical manifestations were available for immunohistochemical staining. Median patient age was 62 months (range, 5 to 207). The expression of gelsolin varied; it was high in 17 patients (47.2%), low in 11 patients (30.6%), and absent in 8 patients (22.2%). The high gelsolin expression group had a higher tendency for multi-organ and risk organ involvement, although the trend was not statistically significant. MMP12 was detected only in 7 patients (19.4%) who showed multi-system involvement (P=0.018) and lower event-free survival (P=0.002) in comparison to patients with negative MMP12 staining.
Gelsolin and MMP12 expression may be associated with the clinical course of LCH, and MMP12 expression may be particularly associated with severe LCH. Further studies of larger populations are needed to define the precise role and significance of gelsolin and MMP12 in the pathogenesis of LCH.
Histiocytosis; Langerhans cells; Immunohistochemistry; Gelsolin; Matrix Metalloproteinase 12
Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) is a rare multisystem disorder that frequently involves the central nervous system (CNS). We compared the clinical characteristics, treatment, and prognosis of patients with HLH according to the degree of CNS involvement.
The clinical manifestations, initial laboratory data, treatment, and outcomes for 50 patients diagnosed with HLH and treated at Asan Medical Center between January 1995 and August 2011 were retrospectively reviewed and analyzed. CNS involvement was defined as the presence of neurological symptoms or an elevated white blood cell (WBC) count in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).
Among these 50 patients, 23 (46%) developed CNS disease. Among patients with CNS disease, 19 had neurological symptoms, including seizures, altered consciousness, facial palsy, dysarthria, and dysphagia. Four patients had elevated CSF WBC counts without neurological symptoms. Twelve patients had abnormal brain imaging results, including high signal intensity lesions on T2-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings, ventriculomegaly, hemorrhage, atrophy, and leptomeningeal enhancement. Patients with CNS disease had lower ferritin, aspartate aminotransferase (AST), and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels as well as reduced 5-year survival as compared to those without CNS disease.
CNS involvement is common among patients with HLH. Overall, patients with CNS disease achieve poorer outcomes than patients without CNS involvement. To improve outcomes, physicians must carefully monitor the neurological manifestations in patients with HLH and administer the appropriate course of intensified chemotherapy to patients with CNS disease.
Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis; Central nervous system involvement; Neurological manifestations; Cerebrospinal fluid; Outcome
Immune reconstitution (IR) after hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) reduces transplantation-related complications such as infection and improves HSCT outcomes.
We retrospectively analyzed IR of lymphocyte subpopulations in 38 pediatric patients for hematologic malignant diseases after allogeneic HSCT from April 2006 to July 2008. T-cell-, B-cell-, and natural killer (NK) cell-associated antigens were assayed in peripheral blood by flow cytometry analysis of 5 lymphocyte subsets, CD3+, CD3+/CD4+, CD4+/CD8+, CD16+/CD56+, and CD19+, before and 3 and 12 months after transplantation.
Reconstitutions of CD16+/CD56+ and CD3+/CD8+ lymphocytes were achieved rapidly, whereas that of CD3+/CD19+ lymphocytes occurred later. Age was not related to reconstitution of any lymphocyte subset. Total body irradiation (TBI) and anti-thymocyte globulin (ATG) administration were related to delayed reconstitution of total lymphocytes and CD3+ lymphocytes, respectively. Reconstitutions of CD3+/CD4+ lymphocytes and CD3+/CD8+ lymphocytes were significantly delayed in patients who received umbilical cord blood stem cells. In patients with chronic graft-versus-host disease (cGVHD), recovery of the total lymphocyte count and CD19+ lymphocytes at 3 months post-transplant were significantly delayed. However, acute GVHD (aGVHD) and cytomegalovirus (CMV) reactivation did not influence the IR of any lymphocyte subset. Further, delayed reconstitution of lymphocyte subsets did not correspond to inferior survival outcomes in this study.
We observed that some lymphocyte reconstitutions after HSCT were influenced by the stem cell source and preparative regimens. However, delayed CD19+ lymphocyte reconstitution may be associated with cGVHD.
Immune reconstitution; Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation; Children; Lymphocyte subset
The effects of chimerism on outcomes following allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) are unclear and may differ between diseases. We retrospectively evaluated the association between chimerism and transplant outcomes in children with nonmalignant diseases.
Chimerism was evaluated using short-tandem repeat polymerase chain reaction (STR-PCR) in 48 patients, with mixed chimerism (MC) defined as greater than 1% recipient cells.
The only variable exerting a significant influence on patients' chimerism status was the number of infused CD34+ cells. MC was detected in 23 transplants (9 showing transient MC; 10 with sustained low levels [≤30%] of autologous cells; and 4 with high-level MC [>30%]). The degree of STR-PCR at 28 days after HSCT was significantly higher in patients with high-level MC than those with transient or low-level MC. All patients with transient or low-level MC successfully maintained engraftment and showed a clinical response to HSCT, whereas 2 of the 4 patients with high-level MC experienced graft failure. The incidences of grades II-IV acute and chronic graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) were significantly higher in patients with complete donor chimerism (CC) than MC. We observed no significant survival differences between CC and MC groups. However, the survival rate was lower in patients with high MC than those with low-level or transient MC (P=0.03).
In non-malignant diseases, MC may indicate a tolerant state with a decreased incidence of GVHD. However, high-level MC may signify an increased risk of graft failure and a lower survival rate.
Non-malignant disease; Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation; Chimerism
The clinical presentation and course of Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH) are variable, ranging from an isolated, spontaneously remitting bone lesion to multisystem disease with risk organ involvement. Treatment of LCH ranges from a wait-and-see attitude to intensive multidrug therapy and, in some cases, bone marrow transplantation. It is necessary to develop an objective score for assessing disease activity in patients with LCH. We propose a new clinical scoring system to evaluate disease activity at diagnosis that can predict the clinical outcomes of LCH and correlate it with clinical courses.
Clinical data, obtained from children diagnosed with LCH at Asan Medical Center and Hanyang University Hospital between March 1998 and February 2009, were studied retrospectively. The scoring system was developed according to the basic biological data, radiological findings, and physical findings and applied to a database containing information on 133 patients.
The median age of the 133 patients (74 male, 59 female) was 52 months (range, 0.6-178 months), and LCH was diagnosed based on CD1a positivity. At diagnosis, the score distributions were highly asymmetrical: the score was between 1 and 2 in 75.9% of cases, 3-6 in 15.8%, and greater than 6 in 8.3%. Initial scores above 6 were highly predictive of reactivation and late complications.
This new LCH disease activity score provides an objective tool for assessing disease severity, both at diagnosis and during follow-up.
Histiocytosis; Langerhans cells; Disease activity; Clinical score
Lineage switch in acute leukemia is an uncommon event at relapse, and therefore rarely reported in the literature. Here, we have described the clinical laboratory features of four cases in which the cell lineage switched from acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) to acute myeloid leukemia (AML). One patient was initially diagnosed with B-ALL, switched to T-ALL at the first relapse, and eventually, AML at the second relapse. A lineage switch represented either relapse of the original clone with heterogeneity at the morphologic level or emergence of a new leukemic clone. Further sequential phenotypic and cytogenetic studies may yield valuable insights into the mechanisms of leukemic recurrence, with possible implications for treatment selection.
Lineage Switch; Acute Leukemia
Infantile hepatic hemangioendothelioma (IHHE) is the most common type of hepatic vascular tumor in infancy. We conducted this study to review our clinical experience of patients with IHHE and to suggest management strategies.
We retrospectively analyzed the medical records of 23 IHHE patients (10 males, 13 females) treated at the Asan Medical Center between 1996 and 2009.
Median age at diagnosis was 38 days (range, 1 to 381 days). Seven patients (30%) were diagnosed with IHHE based on sonographically detected fetal liver masses, 5 (22%) were diagnosed incidentally in the absence of symptoms, 5 (22%) had congestive heart failure, 3 (13%) had skin hemangiomas, 2 (9%) had abnormal liver function tests, and 1 (4%) had hepatomegaly. All diagnoses were based on imaging results, and were confirmed in three patients by histopathology analysis. Six patients were observed without receiving any treatment, whereas 12 received corticosteroids and/or interferon-alpha. One patient with congestive heart failure and a resectable unilobar tumor underwent surgical resection. Three patients with congestive heart failure and unresectable tumors were managed by hepatic artery embolization with/without medical treatment. At a median follow-up of 29 months (range, 1 to 156 months), 21 (91%) patients showed complete tumor disappearance or >50% decrease in tumor size. One patient died due to tumor-related causes.
IHHE generally has a benign clinical course with low morbidity and mortality rates. Clinical course and treatment outcome did not differ significantly between medically treated and non-treated groups. Surgically unresectable patients with significant symptoms may be treated medically or with hepatic artery embolization.
Infant; Liver; Hemangioendothelioma; Corticosteroid; Interferon-alpha; Therapeutic embolization
The impact of HLA matching on outcomes of unrelated donor (URD) hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) varies in different racial or ethnic groups. Since little is known about the impact of such matching on URD HSCT in Korean children, we analyzed this issue.
We analyzed the outcomes of 142 patients who underwent URD HSCT at 4 Korean medical centers. All patient donor pairs were fully typed for HLA-A, -B, -C, and -DR alleles.
At a median follow-up of 22 months, 3-year survival rates for patients with 8, 7, and ≤6 matched alleles were 88.4%, 70.7%, and 53.6%, respectively. A single mismatch (Mm) at HLA-B or -C was associated with lower survival compared with that associated with 8 matched alleles. No significant differences were observed between single-allele and single-antigen Mms with respect to survival rate or acute graft-versus-host disease (aGVHD) incidence rates. HLA disparity had a greater impact on the survival of patients with high-risk malignancy than of those with low-risk malignancy. Among pairs with a single Mm, only locus A showed a significant association and higher risk of grade III-IV aGVHD compared to those in patients with 8 matched alleles.
Disparity in HLA class I, regardless of antigen or allele Mm, adversely affected both survival and grade III-IV aGVHD development. An increased number of HLA Mms was associated with a higher risk of post-transplantation complications. Further investigations using larger cohorts are required to confirm the effects of HLA mismatching on URD HSCT patient outcomes.
URD HSCT; HLA; Korean children
It has been hypothesized that genetic alteration at the cellular level may have a significant effect on cellular mechanisms controlling the proliferation and apoptosis of Langerhans cells (LCs).
We examined whether p16 protein expression can be used to predict the outcome of Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH). Archival paraffin blocks from children diagnosed with LCH and followed at the Asan Medical Center and Chungnam National University Hospital between March 1998 and February 2008 were studied.
Slides were stained with p16 antibody and evaluated semi-quantitatively using the following scale: negative, no staining; ±, weakly positive; 1+, staining similar to lymphocytes surrounding the LCs; 2+, stronger staining than lymphocytes; 3+, much stronger staining than lymphocytes. Negative and ± groups were assigned to a lower expression group (LEG) and the 1+, 2+, and 3+ groups were assigned to a higher expression group (HEG). The median age of the 51 patients (24 girls, 27 boys) was 49 (range, 0.6-178) months, and LCH was diagnosed based on CD1a positivity. p16 protein was expressed to varying degrees in all but one specimen. There was a greater tendency toward multisystem disease, risk organ involvement, and relapse in the HEG than in the LEG.
The p16 protein may have a significant effect on cellular mechanisms controlling the proliferation and apoptosis of LCs, and thus may influence the clinical outcome and prognosis of LCH.
Genes; p16; Histiocytosis; Langerhans cells; Immunohistochemistry
Our study attempted to determine the prognostic significance of minimal residual disease (MRD) detected by a simplified flow cytometric assay during induction chemotherapy in children with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL).
A total of 98 patients were newly diagnosed with precursor B-ALL from June 2004 to December 2008 at the Asan Medical Center (Seoul, Korea). Of those, 37 were eligible for flow cytometric MRD study analysis on day 14 of their induction treatment. The flow cytometric MRD assay was based on the expression intensity of CD19/CD10/CD34 or aberrant expression of myeloid antigens by bone marrow nucleated cells.
Thirty-five patients (94.6%) had CD19-positive leukemic cells that also expressed CD10 and/or CD34, and 18 (48.6%) had leukemic cells with aberrant expression of myeloid antigens. Seven patients with ≥1% leukemic cells on day 14 had a significantly lower relapse-free survival (RFS) compared to the 30 patients with lower levels (42.9% [18.7%] vs. 92.0% [5.4%], P=0.004). Stratification into 3 MRD groups (≥1%, 0.1-1%, and <0.1%) also showed a statistically significant difference in RFS (42.9% [18.7%] vs. 86.9% [8.7%] vs. 100%, P=0.013). However, the MRD status had no significant influence on overall survival. Multivariate analysis demonstrated that the MRD level on day 14 was an independent prognostic factor with borderline significance.
An MRD assay using simplified flow cytometry during induction chemotherapy may help to identify patients with B-ALL who have an excellent outcome and patients who are at higher risk for relapse.
Lymphoblastic leukemia; Acute; Childhood; Minimal residual disease; Flow cytometry
Central nervous system (CNS) complications after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) have not been well characterized in the pediatric population.
We retrospectively analyzed data of 202 consecutive children who underwent allogeneic HSCT (60 from matched related donors, 9 from mismatched related donors, and 133 from unrelated donors) at Asan Medical Center between 1998 and 2009.
Twenty-seven children (13.5%) developed CNS complications within 6 months after HSCT. Calcineurin inhibitor (CNI)-associated neurotoxicity was the most common CNS complication (n=16), followed by CNS infection (n=2), cerebrovascular events (n=2), thrombotic microangiopathy-associated events (n=2), metabolic encephalopathy (n=2), irradiation/chemotherapy injury (n=1), and encephalopathy/myelopathy of unknown causes (n=2). Univariate analysis showed that a transplant from an alternative donor and the occurrence of acute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) (>grade 2) were associated with a significantly increased risk of CNS complications. In the multivariate analysis, acute GVHD >grade 2 was identified as an independent risk factor for early CNS complications. The 5-year overall survival rate was significantly lower in patients with CNS complications (52.1% vs. 64.9%, P=0.014), whereas CNI-associated neurotoxicity did not affect the survival outcome.
CNS complications are frequent among children undergoing HSCT, contributing to early death after transplant. More attention should be paid to the development of CNS complications for recipients of alternative donor transplants and patients with severe acute GVHD who are at increased risk for CNS complications.
Allogeneic; Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation; Neurological complication; Cyclosporine; Children
Despite advances in chemotherapy, the prognosis of relapsed acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) remains poor. Few studies on relapsed ALL have reported the importance of intensive consolidation followed with or without allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT).
We evaluated the post-relapse outcomes in 47 Korean children with a first marrow relapse, and analyzed the prognostic factors.
A second complete remission (CR) was achieved in 40 patients (85.1%), and at the time of this study, second CR was maintained in 12 of these patients. The estimated 3-yr event-free survival (EFS) rate after the first marrow relapse was 29.8±6.7%, and the overall survival (OS) rate was 45.3±7.5%. We found that second remission, consolidation of pediatric oncology group chemotherapy regimen (POG 9411), and HSCT significantly affected the outcome of the disease after relapse (P<0.001; P=0.004; P=0.05).
The results of our study revealed that an intensified POG 9411 consolidation chemotherapy regimen followed by HSCT can improve the outcome of patients with relapsed ALL.
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia; Relapse; Intensive consolidation; Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation