A new highly sensitive real-time quantitative-PCR method for detection of BCR-ABL1 to monitor minimal residual disease in chronic myeloid leukemia after discontinuation of imatinib

Hiroaki Kitamura, Yoko Tabe, Tomohiko Ai, Koji Tsuchiya, Maiko Yuri, Shigeki Misawa, Takashi Horii, Atsushi Kawaguchi, Akimichi Ohsaka, Shinya Kimura

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Tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) targeting the BCR-ABL1 fusion protein, encoded by the Philadelphia chromosome, have drastically improved the outcomes for patients with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). Although several real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RQ-PCR) kits for the detection of BCR-ABL1 transcripts are commercially available, their accuracy and efficiency in laboratory practice require reevaluation. We have developed a new in-house RQ-PCR method to detect minimal residual disease (MRD) in CML cases. MRD was analyzed in 102 patients with CML from the DOMEST study, a clinical trial to study the rationale for imatinib mesylate discontinuation in Japan. The BCR-ABL1/ABL1 ratio was evaluated using the international standard (IS) ratio, where IS < 0.1% was defined as a major molecular response. At enrollment, BCR-ABL1 transcripts were undetectable in all samples using a widely-applied RQ-PCR method performed in the commercial laboratory, BML (BML Inc., Tokyo, Japan); however, the in-house method detected the BCR-ABL1 transcripts in five samples (5%) (mean IS ratio: 0.0062 ± 0.0010%). After discontinuation of imatinib, BCR-ABL1 transcripts were detected using the in-house RQ-PCR in 21 patients (21%) that were not positive using the BML method. Nineteen samples were also tested using a commercially available RQ-PCR assay kit with a detection limit of IS ratio, 0.0032 (ODK-1201, Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Tokyo, Japan). This method detected low levels of BCR-ABL1 transcripts in 14 samples (74%), but scored negative for five samples (26%) that were positive using the in-house method. From the perspective of the in-house RQ-PCR method, number of patients confirmed loss of MMR was 4. These data suggest that our new in-house RQ-PCR method is effective for monitoring MRD in CML.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0207170
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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