ASXL1 mutations identify a high-risk subgroup of older patients with primary cytogenetically normal AML within the ELN Favorable genetic category

Klaus H. Metzeler, Heiko Becker, Kati Maharry, Michael D. Radmacher, Jessica Kohlschmidt, Krzysztof Mrózek, Deedra Nicolet, Susan P. Whitman, Yue-Zhong Wu, Sebastian Schwind, Bayard L. Powell, Thomas H. Carter, Meir Wetzler, Joseph O. Moore, Jonathan E. Kolitz, Maria R. Baer, Andrew J. Carroll, Richard A. Larson, Michael A. Caligiuri, Guido Marcucci and Clara D. Bloomfield


The associations of mutations in the enhancer of trithorax and polycomb family gene ASXL1 with pretreatment patient characteristics, outcomes, and gene-/microRNA-expression profiles in primary cytogenetically normal acute myeloid leukemia (CN-AML) are unknown. We analyzed 423 adult patients for ASXL1 mutations, other prognostic gene mutations, and gene-/microRNA-expression profiles. ASXL1 mutations were 5 times more common in older (≥ 60 years) patients (16.2%) than those younger than 60 years (3.2%; P < .001). Among older patients, ASXL1 mutations associated with wild-type NPM1 (P < .001), absence of FLT3-internal tandem duplications (P = .002), mutated CEBPA (P = .01), and with inferior complete remission (CR) rate (P = .04), disease-free survival (DFS; P = .03), overall survival (OS; P = .006), and event-free survival (EFS; P = .002). Within the European LeukemiaNet (ELN) genetic categories of older CN-AML, ASXL1 mutations associated with inferior CR rate (P = .02), OS (P < .001), and EFS (P < .001) among ELN Favorable, but not among ELN Intermediate-I patients. Multivariable analyses confirmed associations of ASXL1 mutations with unfavorable CR rate (P = .03), DFS (P < .001), OS (P < .001), and EFS (P < .001) among ELN Favorable patients. We identified an ASXL1 mutation-associated gene-expression signature, but no microRNA-expression signature. This first study of ASXL1 mutations in primary CN-AML demonstrates that ASXL1mutated older patients, particularly within the ELN Favorable group, have unfavorable outcomes and may be candidates for experimental treatment approaches.

  • Submitted August 23, 2011.
  • Accepted October 5, 2011.
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