Impending relapse of myelodysplastic syndrome after allogeneic transplant is difficult to diagnose and requires a multi-modal approach

Elizabeth L. Courville, Megan Griffith, Celalettin Ustun, Sophia Yohe, Erica Warlick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: The only potentially curative therapy for myelodysplastic syndrome is allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplant; unfortunately, there is a high relapse rate. The objective of this study was to perform a detailed clinicopathologic study of patients with relapsed myeloid neoplasm following allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplant for myelodysplastic syndrome. Methods: Pre-transplant, post-transplant, and relapse bone marrow and peripheral blood morphologic features (including dysplasia) were retrospectively evaluated by study authors. Clinical features and results of cytogenetic analysis and engraftment/chimerism studies were obtained from the medical record. Results: Our study describes 21 patients with a median time to relapse of 6 months (range 2-82). Ten of the patients relapsed with higher grade disease, including six with overt acute myeloid leukemia. Pre-transplant megakaryocyte dysplasia was associated with dysplastic megakaryocytes in the relapse specimen; however, neither erythroid dysplasia nor granulocytic dysplasia were associated with their counterpart in the relapse specimen. Relapse specimens had a lower marrow cellularity and higher blast percentage than pre-transplant disease. Cytogenetic comparisons before and after transplant showed variety, including clonal evolution (22%), the same abnormal clone (33%), or a different abnormal clone (22%). Conclusions: Our detailed review of post-transplant marrow biopsies prior to relapse highlights the difficulty in diagnosing relapse and particularly impending relapse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number28
JournalBMC Clinical Pathology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 28 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research reported in this publication was supported by NIH grant P30 CA77598 utilizing the Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Core shared resource of the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota and by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health Award Number UL1TR000114. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 The Author(s).


  • Acute myeloid leukemia
  • Allogeneic stem cell transplant
  • Cytogenetic
  • Myelodysplastic syndrome
  • Relapse


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