The common acute lymphoblastic leukemia antigen (CALLA) has been detected in biological fluids using a radioimmunoassay based on the inhibition of binding of 125I-labeled monoclonal anti-CALLA antibody to glutaraldehyde-fixed NALM-1 cells. With this assay, we showed first that CALLA was released in culture fluids from NALM-1 and Daudi cell lines but was absent from culture fluids from CALLA negative cell lines. Then, we found that the sera of 34 out of 42 patients (81%) with untreated common acute lymphoblastic leukemia (c-ALL) contained higher CALLA levels than any of the 42 serum samples from healthy controls. The specificity of these results was further demonstrated by testing in parallel the sera from 48 patients with CALLA negative leukemias, including 26 acute myeloid leukemia (AML), 12 T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL), and 10 acute undifferentiated leukemia (AUL). All of these sera gave negative results, except for one patient with AUL, who had a significantly elevated circulating CALLA level, and one patient with AML, who had a borderline CALLA level, 3 SD over the mean of the normal sera. Preliminary results suggest that circulating CALLA is associated with membrane fragments or vesicles, since the total CALLA antigenic activity was recovered in the pellet of the serum samples centrifuged at 100,000 g. In addition, the CALLA-positive pellets contained an enzyme considered as a membrane marker, 5'-nucleotidase. Evaluation of the clinical importance of repeated serum CALLA determinations for the monitoring of c-ALL patients deserves further investigation.


S Carrel, F Buchegger, D Heumann, C Girardet, C Barras, G Losa, J P Mach, V von Fliedner


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