Detection of circulating ‘terminal transferase-positive’ cells does not predict relapse in acute lymphoblastic leukemia
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Serial samples of peripheral blood were obtained from 35 children with ALL over a period of 18 months. The mononuclear cells were examined for TdT by indirect immunofluorescence using an unpurified anti-calf thymus TdT as the primary antibody. This analysis failed to distinguish those children who were destined to relapse (n = 9) from those who remained in continuous complete remission. Rather, the exhibition of fluorescence was linked to the co-existence of infection, with a negative predictive value of 0.91. Putative 'TdT-positive' cells were concentrated in the T-lymphocyte fraction and the very process of E-rosette formation seemed to contribute to this phenomenon. It appears as if the anti-TdT reagent recognizes not only TdT but also a variety of antigens which are expressed on or in immature and activated lymphocytes.
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