Indoleamine 2,3 dioxygenase-1 (IDO-1) is an enzyme in the kynurenine pathway which augments tumor-induced immune tolerance. Previous studies in childhood acute myeloid leukemia (AML) have shown a negative correlation of IDO-1 mRNA expression with outcomes. The aim of our study was to develop a practical and objective immunohistochemical technique to quantify IDO-1 expression on diagnostic bone marrow biopsies of AML patients in order to facilitate its use in routine clinical practice. IDO-1 mRNA was extracted from diagnostic bone marrow specimens from 29 AML patients. IDO-1 protein expression was assessed in 40 cases via immunohistochemistry and quantified by a novel 'composite IDO-1 score'. In a univariate analysis, higher age (p = 0.0018), male gender (p = 0.019), high risk cytogenetics (p = 0.002), higher IDO-1 mRNA (p = 0.005), higher composite IDO-1 score (p < 0.0001) and not undergoing allogeneic stem cell transplant (SCT, p = 0.0005) predicted poor overall survival. In a multivariate model that included the aforementioned variables, higher composite IDO-1 score (p = 0.007) and not undergoing allogeneic SCT (p = 0.007) was found to significantly predict poor outcomes. Further, patients who failed induction had higher composite IDO-1 score (p = 0.01). In conclusion, 'composite IDO-1 score' is a prognostic tool that can help identify a certain subset of AML patients with 'early mortality'. This unique subset of patients can potentially benefit from specific IDO-1 inhibitor therapy, currently in clinical trials.
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