The growth pattern of marrow cells in agar culture was studied in 90 adult patients with acute nonlymphocytic leukemia (ANLL) at diagnosis. We classified the abnormal growth patterns into 4 groups, A: no growth, B: decreased growth, C: excessive microcluster formation and D: excessive cluster growth with more than 20 colonies. There was a good correlation between growth pattern and FAB subtype. A predominance of group A growth was observed in Ml, while group B growth was found in 50% of patients with M2 and M5. No relationships between the growth patterns and other clinical parameters were detected. Sixty-six patients were evaluable for treatment outcome. The growth pattern significantly correlated with complete remission rate. The remission rates were 52, 87, 80, and 25% for patients with group A, B, C and D growth, respectively. Analyses of remission duration and survival curves showed significant differences among the different growth patterns. Patients with D growth experienced a shorter remission duration and a lower survival rate than other groups. These results indicate that the in vitro culture growth pattern in untreated ANLL is of prognostic significance in predicting the response to therapy.

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