Background: Acute erythroid leukaemia (AEL) is a rare subtype of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), constituting <5% of all the cases of AML. The World Health Organization (WHO) in 2001 classified AEL into two types: (1) erythroid/myeloid leukaemia which required ≥50% erythroid precursors with ≥20% of the non-erythroid cells to be myeloid blasts and (2) pure erythroleukemia (pEL) with ≥80% erythroblasts. The WHO 2008 classification kept these subcategories, but made erythroleukemia a diagnosis of exclusion. There are very few studies on the clinico haematological and cytogenetic profile of this disease, considering the rarity of its occurrence and poor prognosis.
Materials and methods: This study was done by retrospective analysis of data from 32 case files of patients diagnosed with AEL. Clinical details noted down were the demographic profile, peripheral blood smear details and bone marrow examination details: (1) blasts-erythroblasts and myeloblasts, (2) dysplasia in the cell lineages and (3) cytogenetic abnormalities.
Results: The most common presenting symptom was fever. Pancytopenia at presentation was seen in 81.25% of patients. Dysplasia was observed in bone marrow in 100% of erythroblasts and in 40% of myeloblasts in erythroid/myeloid subtype. In pure myeloid subtype, myeloid and megakaryocytic dysplasias were not obvious. Complex karyotype was noticed only in patients of pEL.
Conclusion: AEL is a rare group of heterogeneous diseases with many neoplastic and non-neoplastic conditions mimicking the diagnosis. The clinical presentation and cytogenetics are also non-specific, presenting additional challenges to the diagnosis.