BACKGROUND. Variable response to chemotherapy in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) represents a major treatment challenge. Clinical and genetic features incompletely predict outcome. The value of clinical epigenetic assays for risk classification has not been extensively explored. We assess the prognostic implications of a clinical assay for multilocus DNA methylation on adult patients with de novo AML. METHODS. We performed multilocus DNA methylation assessment using xMELP on samples and calculated a methylation statistic (M-score) for 166 patients from UPENN with de novo AML who received induction chemotherapy. The association of M-score with complete remission (CR) and overall survival (OS) was evaluated. The optimal M-score cut-point for identifying groups with differing survival was used to define a binary M-score classifier. This classifier was validated in an independent cohort of 383 patients from the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group Trial 1900 (E1900; NCT00049517). RESULTS. A higher mean M-score was associated with death and failure to achieve CR. Multivariable analysis confirmed that a higher M-score was associated with death (P = 0.011) and failure to achieve CR (P = 0.034). Median survival was 26.6 months versus 10.6 months for low and high M-score groups. The ability of the M-score to perform as a classifier was confirmed in patients ≤ 60 years with intermediate cytogenetics and patients who achieved CR, as well as in the E1900 validation cohort. CONCLUSION. The M-score represents a valid binary prognostic classifier for patients with de novo AML. The xMELP assay and associated M-score can be used for prognosis and should be further investigated for clinical decision making in AML patients.
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