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PURPOSE: Optimized strategies for risk classification are essential to tailor therapy for patients with biologically distinctive disease. Risk classification in pediatric acute myeloid leukemia (pAML) relies on detection of translocations and gene mutations. Long noncoding RNA (lncRNA) transcripts have been shown to associate with and mediate malignant phenotypes in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) but have not been comprehensively evaluated in pAML.
METHODS: To identify lncRNA transcripts associated with outcomes, we evaluated the annotated lncRNA landscape by transcript sequencing of 1,298 pediatric and 96 adult AML specimens. Upregulated lncRNAs identified in the pAML training set were used to establish a regularized Cox regression model of event-free survival (EFS), yielding a 37 lncRNA signature (lncScore). Discretized lncScores were correlated with initial and postinduction treatment outcomes using Cox proportional hazards models in validation sets. Predictive model performance was compared with standard stratification methods by concordance analysis.
RESULTS: Training set cases with positive lncScores had 5-year EFS and overall survival rates of 26.7% and 42.7%, respectively, compared with 56.9% and 76.3% with negative lncScores (hazard ratio, 2.48 and 3.16; < .001). Pediatric validation cohorts and an adult AML group yielded comparable results in magnitude and significance. lncScore remained independently prognostic in multivariable models, including key factors used in preinduction and postinduction risk stratification. Subgroup analysis suggested that lncScores provide additional outcome information in heterogeneous subgroups currently classified as indeterminate risk. Concordance analysis showed that lncScore adds to overall classification accuracy with at least comparable predictive performance to current stratification methods that rely on multiple assays.
CONCLUSION: Inclusion of the lncScore enhances predictive power of traditional cytogenetic and mutation-defined stratification in pAML with potential, as a single assay, to replace these complex stratification schemes with comparable predictive accuracy.