In vitro drug resistance profiles of adult versus childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia

Jan Styczynski, Rob Pieters, Dieuwke R. Huismans, Gerrit J. Schuurhuis, Mariusz Wysocki, Anjo J.P. Veerman

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66 Citations (Scopus)


The difference in the current cure rates between adult and childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) may be caused by differences in drug resistance. Earlier studies showed that in vitro cellular drug resistance is a strong independent adverse risk factor in childhood ALL. Knowledge about cellular drug resistance in adult ALL is still limited. The present study compared the in vitro drug resistance profiles of 23 adult ALL patients with that of 395 childhood ALL patients. The lymphoblasts were tested by the MTT assay. The group of adult ALL samples was significantly more resistant to cytosine arabinoside, L-asparaginase, daunorubicin, dexamethasone and prednisolone. The resistance ratio (RR) was highest for prednisolone (31.7-fold) followed by dexamethasone (6.9-fold), L-asparaginase (6.1-fold), cytosine arabinoside (2.9-fold), daunorubicin (2.5-fold) and vincristine (2.2-fold). Lymphoblasts from adult patients were not more resistant to mercapto-purine, thioguanine, 4-HOO-ifosfamide, mitoxantrone and teniposide. There were no significant differences in drug resistance between adult T-cell (T-) ALL (n = 11) and adult common/pre-B-cell (B-) ALL (n = 10). Additionally, adult T-ALL did not differ from childhood T-ALL (n = 69). There were significant differences between adult common/pre-B-ALL and childhood common/pre-B-ALL (n = 310) for prednisolone (RR = 302, P = 0.008). dexamethasone (RR = 20.9, P = 0.017) and daunorubicin (RR = 2.7, P = 0.009). Lymphoblasts from adults proved to be relatively resistant to drugs commonly used in therapy. This might contribute to the difference in outcome between children and adults with ALL.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)813-818
Number of pages6
JournalBritish Journal of Haematology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Adults
  • ALL
  • Children
  • Drug resistance
  • MTT assay


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