We previously identified a small number of genes using cDNA arrays that accurately diagnosed patients with Sézary Syndrome (SS), the erythrodermic and leukemic form of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL). We now report the development of a quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) assay that uses expression values for just 5 of those genes: STAT4, GATA-3, PLS3, CD1D, and TRAIL. qRT-PCR data from peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) accurately classified 88% of 17 patients with high blood tumor burden and 100% of 12 healthy controls in the training set using Fisher linear discriminant analysis (FLDA). The same 5 genes were then assayed on 56 new samples from 49 SS patients with blood tumor burdens of 5% to 99% and 69 samples from 65 new healthy controls. The average accuracy over 1000 resamplings was 90% using FLDA and 88% using support vector machine (SVM). We also tested the classifier on 14 samples from patients with CTCL with no detectable peripheral involvement and 3 patients with atopic dermatitis with severe erythroderma. The accuracy was 100% in identifying these samples as non-SS patients. These results are the first to demonstrate that gene expression profiling by quantitative PCR on a selected number of critical genes can be employed to molecularly diagnosis SS.
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