Monitoring chronic myeloid leukaemia therapy by real-time quantitative PCR in blood is a reliable alternative to bone marrow cytogenetics

S. Branford, Timothy Hughes, Z. Rudzki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

195 Citations (Scopus)


We have developed a rapid real-time quantitative PCR method for measuring BCR-ABL mRNA levels in peripheral blood in chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML). The technique was used to monitor minimal residual disease for the early detection of relapse and as an assessment of treatment response. Normal BCR mRNA was quantitated to control for RNA degradation and the results reported as a percentage of BCR-ABL/BCR. Every patient measured at diagnosis (n = 21) had increased expression of BCR-ABL of up to 5-fold above the normal BCR levels. With effective treatment the BCR-ABL levels decreased. The molecular data was correlated with Philadelphia chromosome levels in bone marrow and a good correlation was found when treatment induced a cytogenetic response (Spearman correlation = 0.94, P < 0.0001, n = 67 samples). In patients receiving interferon-α therapy we found a significant difference in the BCR-ABL levels between cytogenetic response groups. The method was sensitive, reproducible, and readily detected a change in BCR-ABL transcript levels in serial blood samples. Sample throughput was high because post PCR processing was unnecessary. We conclude that real-time quantitative PCR monitoring of peripheral blood can be used to reliably monitor disease response in CML.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)587-599
Number of pages13
JournalBritish Journal of Haematology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1999


  • BCR- ABL
  • Chronic myeloid leukaemia
  • Competitive PCR
  • Polymorphism
  • Real-time quantitative PCR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology

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