Background: Flow cytometric intracellular myeloperoxidase (MPO) staining of leukemic blasts is a useful tool in diagnosis of leukemia subtype. Interpretation of high MPO-positivity can be a diagnostic challenge in B-lineage acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL). While very few such cases have been reported, high MPO positive B-ALL cases without additional myeloid antigen positivity are suspect and require further investigation. Methods: Three pediatric cases of B-ALL with strong MPO staining (clone 8E6; Invitrogen) at diagnosis and three others with negative MPO staining were studied by flow cytometry and immunohistochemistry. In-vitro drug cytotoxicity, oxidative stress generation, and immunophenotyping using other MPO clones were performed to further investigate MPO presence. Results: Expectedly, normal myeloid cells in all six samples were positive and mature lymphocytes negative for MPO staining. However, MPO monoclonal antibody (mAb) obtained from clones other than Invitrogen and other myeloid-specific mAbs gave negative results suggesting false positivity of the initial MPO staining. Immunohistochemistry for MPO was also negative on all six cases tested. Furthermore, in-vitro vincristine cytotoxicity was greater in leukemic cells from MPO false-positive cases compared with MPO-negative B-ALL samples, demonstrating indirect lack of MPO activity. Moreover, drug treatment did not lead to generation of reactive oxidative species, also reflective of lack of significant MPO presence. Conclusions: The cause of false-positive MPO staining remains unknown in these three cases; a cross reactivity could be the culprit. Caution should be given to similar phenomena and detailed investigation may contribute to the understanding of altered protein expression in such outlier cases.
- B lineage acute lymphoblastic leukemia
- false positive
- flow cytometry
- intracellular myeloperoxidase
- oxidative stress