Comparison of bone marrow and peripheral blood ZAP-70 status examined by flow cytometric immunophenotyping in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia

Rachel Sheridan, Taofic Mounajjed, Diane E. Ehrmann, Paul E. Hurtubise, Jeffrey A. Schrager

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: The mutational status of the immunoglobulin heavy chain variable gene in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia correlates with prognosis. Patients with mutated IgVH genes fare better than those with unmutated genes. Gene expression profiling studies identified the tyrosine kinase ZAP-70 to be expressed in unmutated CLL samples. Flow cytometric examination of ZAP-70 expression in tumor cells has been proposed to be a convenient surrogate marker for IgVH mutational status. However, a few studies have shown a small number of discordant results between ZAP-70 positivity, IgVH mutational status, and clinical outcome. There have been no reported studies comparing bone marrow samples with peripheral blood for ZAP-70 expression in CLL patients. Methods: We searched our flow cytometry files from October 2004 through April 2003 and identified CLL in 311 bone marrow and peripheral blood specimens from 258 patients. We defined ZAP-70 positivity as greater than 30% of the CD19+ B-cells above the isotype control value that coexpress ZAP-70. Statistical analyses were performed using the Fisher exact test and student t-test. Results: A significantly greater number of bone marrow specimens were positive for ZAP-70 when compared with the number of peripheral blood specimens. Of all the ZAP-70 negative specimens, CLL cells from bone marrow had a greater mean percentage of ZAP-70 positive cells when compared with the CLL cells from peripheral blood. Finally, six patients were identified who were ZAP-70 positive in the bone marrow but ZAP-70 negative in the peripheral blood. Conclusions: These results may be due to either an increase in the false positive rate in bone marrow specimens or to an intrinsic feature of CLL cells in the compartment that is biologically distinct from peripheral tumor cells. As prognosis and treatment decisions may be based on ZAP-70 results from either specimen type, it is prudent to further examine this observation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)319-320
Number of pages2
JournalCytometry Part B - Clinical Cytometry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 15 2006


  • Bone marrow
  • CLL
  • Flow cytometry
  • Peripheral blood
  • ZAP-70

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology
  • Cell Biology


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