In acute myeloid leukemia (AML), the assessment of post-treatment minimal residual disease (MRD) may inform a more effective management approach. We investigated the prognostic utility of next-generation sequencing (NGS)-based MRD detection undertaken before hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). Forty-two AML subjects underwent serial disease monitoring both by standard methods, and a targeted 42-gene NGS assay, able to detect leukemia-specific mutant alleles (with >0.5% VAF) (mean 5.1 samples per subject). The prognostic relevance of any persisting diagnostic mutation before transplant (≤27 days) was assessed during 22.1 months (median) of post-transplant follow-up. The sensitivity of the NGS assay (27 MRD-positive subjects) exceeded that of the non-molecular methods (morphology, FISH, and flow cytometry) (11 positive subjects). Only one of the 13 subjects who relapsed after HSCT was NGS MRD-negative (92% assay sensitivity). The cumulative incidence of post-transplant leukemic relapse was significantly higher in the pre-transplant NGS MRD-positive (vs MRD-negative) subjects (P =.014). After adjusting for TP53 mutation and transplant conditioning regimen, NGS MRD-positivity retained independent prognostic significance for leukemic relapse (subdistribution hazard ratio = 7.3; P =.05). The pre-transplant NGS MRD-positive subjects also had significantly shortened progression-free survival (P =.038), and marginally shortened overall survival (P =.068). In patients with AML undergoing HSCT, the pre-transplant persistence of NGS-defined MRD imparts a significant, sensitive, strong, and independent increased risk for subsequent leukemic relapse and death. Given that NGS can simultaneously detect multiple leukemia-associated mutations, it can be used in the majority of AML patients to monitor disease burdens and inform treatment decisions.
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