Consensus Recommendations for MRD Testing in Adult B-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in Ontario Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Measurable (minimal) residual disease (MRD) is an established, key prognostic factor in adult B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL), and testing for MRD is known to be an important tool to help guide treatment decisions. The clinical value of MRD testing depends on the accuracy and reliability of results. Currently, there are no Canadian provincial or national guidelines for MRD testing in adult B-ALL, and consistent with the absence of such guidelines, there is no uniform Ontario MRD testing consensus. Moreover, there is great variability in Ontario in MRD testing with respect to where, when, and by which technique, MRD testing is performed, as well as in how the results are interpreted. To address these deficiencies, an expert multidisciplinary working group was convened to define consensus recommendations for improving the provision of such testing. The expert panel recommends that MRD testing should be implemented in a centralized manner to ensure expertise and accuracy in testing for this low volume indication, thereby to provide accurate, reliable results to clinicians and patients. All adult patients with B-ALL should receive MRD testing after induction chemotherapy. Philadelphia chromosome (Ph)-positive patients should have ongoing monitoring of MRD during treatment and thereafter, while samples from Ph-negative B-ALL patients should be tested at least once later during treatment, ideally at 12 to 16 weeks after treatment initiation. In Ph-negative adult B-ALL patients, standardized, ideally centralized, protocols must be used for MRD testing, including both flow cytometry and immunoglobulin (Ig) heavy chain and T-cell receptor (TCR) gene rearrangement analysis. For Ph-positive B-ALL patients, MRD testing using a standardized protocol for reverse transcription real-time quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) for the BCR-ABL1 gene fusion transcript is recommended, with Ig/TCR gene rearrangement analysis done in parallel likely providing additional clinical information.


  • Tierens, Anne
  • Stockley, Tracy L
  • Campbell, Clinton
  • Fulcher, Jill
  • Leber, Brian
  • McCready, Elizabeth
  • Sabatini, Peter JB
  • Sadikovic, Bekim
  • Schuh, Andre C

publication date

  • March 30, 2021