Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) with mutated NPM1 is a newly recognized separate entity in the revised 2016 WHO classification, and is associated with a favorable prognosis. While previous studies have evaluated NPM1 in a binary fashion, we recently demonstrated a significant independent negative prognostic effect of high NPM1 mutant allele burden (VAF) at diagnosis in a cohort of de novo AML patients. Although the importance of minimal residual disease (MRD) monitoring in NPM1-mutated AML has been well characterized, the potential relationship between diagnostic allele burden and MRD is unknown. We retrospectively evaluated for MRD at first remission (CR1). We used either next-generation sequencing (NGS) [n = 71], and/or immunohistochemistry (IHC) for mutant NPM1 (NPM1c) [n = 60], in a subset of patients from our recently examined cohort. We identified a statistically significant positive correlation between the VAF at diagnosis, and at CR1 (Spearman r = 0.4, P =.006), and enrichment for MRD in high diagnostic VAF patients (P =.05), as previously defined. IHC-positivity also correlated significantly with a higher median diagnostic NPM1 VAF (0.42 vs 0.39, P =.02), and with the VAF at CR1 (Spearman r = 0.7, P =.003). In multivariable analyses, both high diagnostic VAF (P =.003) and MRD (P =.02) were independent predictors of shorter event-free survival (EFS). Our findings suggest a relationship between the NPM1 mutant allele burden at diagnosis, and the presence of MRD at first remission. Our findings support IHC as a potentially useful adjunctive tool for disease monitoring.
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