International Journal of Hematology

DOI: 10.1007/s12185-012-1220-9 Pages: 3-19

Current evidence for an inherited genetic basis of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia

1. St. Luke’s Life Science Institute, Center for Clinical Epidemiology

2. University of California, School of Public Health

3. St. Luke’s International Hospital, Department of Pediatrics

4. Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Department of Pediatrics and Developmental Biology, Graduate School of Medicine

Correspondence to:
Kevin Y. Urayama
Tel: +81-3-55502426
Fax: +81-3-55502426



Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is the most common cancer in children, and efforts to understand its etiology has followed a paradigm that common genetic variation in the presence of modifiable environmental factors contribute to disease risk. To date, there are numerous reports of candidate gene association studies suggesting an involvement of genetic loci in childhood ALL risk, but the general lack of consistency in results has underscored the need for careful interpretation and confirmation in additional well-designed studies. Complementary efforts using the genome-wide association study approach have shown indisputable evidence that common low penetrance genetic polymorphisms contribute to childhood ALL risk. However, current calculations show that these established disease loci only explain a portion of the total estimated contribution of common genetic variation on childhood ALL risk. Certain candidate gene loci previously examined likely contribute to this unexplained variation in risk, but the challenge moving forward will be to establish which ones based on the accumulating evidence. In this review, we describe the results of the most recent gene association studies in childhood ALL and discuss options for future efforts to advance this area of research.

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