Defining the prognosis of individual cancer sufferers remains a significant clinical challenge. Here we assessed the ability of high-resolution single telomere length analysis (STELA), combined with an experimentally derived definition of telomere dysfunction, to predict the clinical outcome of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL). We defined the upper telomere length threshold at which telomere fusions occur and then used the mean of the telomere 'fusogenic' range as a prognostic tool. Patients with telomeres within the fusogenic range had a significantly shorter overall survival (P < 0·0001; Hazard ratio [HR] = 13·2, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 11·6-106·4) and this was preserved in early-stage disease patients (P < 0·0001, HR=19·3, 95% CI = 17·8-802·5). Indeed, our assay allowed the accurate stratification of Binet stage A patients into those with indolent disease (91% survival at 10 years) and those with poor prognosis (13% survival at 10 years). Furthermore, patients with telomeres above the fusogenic mean showed superior prognosis regardless of their IGHV mutation status or cytogenetic risk group. In keeping with this finding, telomere dysfunction was the dominant variable in multivariate analysis. Taken together, this study provides compelling evidence for the use of high-resolution telomere length analysis coupled with a definition of telomere dysfunction in the prognostic assessment of CLL.
Approximately 70% of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) patients present with early stage disease, therefore defining which patients will progress and require treatment is a major clinical challenge. Here, we present the largest study of prognostic markers ever carried out in Binet stage A patients (n?=?1154) with a median follow-up of 8?years. We assessed the prognostic impact of lymphocyte doubling time (LDT), immunoglobulin gene (IGHV) mutation status, CD38 expression, ZAP-70 expression and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) cytogenetics with regards to time to first treatment (TTFT) and overall survival (OS). Univariate analysis revealed LDT as the most prognostic parameter for TTFT, with IGHV mutation status most prognostic for OS. CD38 expression, ZAP-70 expression and FISH were also prognostic variables; combinations of these markers increased prognostic power in concordant cases. Multivariate analysis revealed that only LDT, IGHV mutation status, CD38 and age at diagnosis were independent prognostic variables for TTFT and OS. Therefore, IGHV mutation status and CD38 expression have independent prognostic value in early stage CLL and should be performed as part of the routine diagnostic workup. ZAP-70 expression and FISH were not independent prognostic markers in early stage disease and can be omitted at diagnosis but FISH analysis should be undertaken at disease progression to direct treatment strategy.
The pyrrolobenzodiazepines (PBD) are naturally occurring antitumor antibiotics, and a PBD dimer (SJG-136, SG2000) is in phase II trials. Many potent PBDs contain a C2-endo-exo unsaturated motif associated with the pyrrolo C-ring. The novel compound SG2202 is a PBD dimer containing this motif. SG2285 is a water-soluble prodrug of SG2202 in which two bisulfite groups inactivate the PBD N10-C11 imines. Once the bisulfites are eliminated, the imine moieties can bind covalently in the DNA minor groove, forming an interstrand cross-link. The mean in vitro cytotoxic potency of SG2285 against human tumor cell lines is GI(50) 20 pmol/L. SG2285 is highly efficient at producing DNA interstrand cross-links in cells, but they form more slowly than those produced by SG2202. Cellular sensitivity to SG2285 was primarily dependent on ERCC1 and homologous recombination repair. In primary B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia samples, the mean LD(50) was significantly lower than in normal age-matched B and T lymphocytes. Antitumor activity was shown in several human tumor xenograft models, including ovarian, non-small cell lung, prostate, pancreatic, and melanoma, with cures obtained in the latter model with a single dose. Further, in an advanced-stage colon model, SG2285 administered either as a single dose, or in two repeat dose schedules, was superior to irinotecan. Our findings define SG2285 as a highly active cytotoxic compound with antitumor properties desirable for further development.
The world of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) research is awash with prognostic markers. However, very few of the current group play a clearly defined role in the pathology of this disease and even fewer represent a tractable therapeutic target. One such marker that fulfils both of these criteria is the integrin CD49d. This molecule been implicated in the capacity of CLL cells to migrate into lymphoid tissues and there is a CD49d blocking antibody, Natalizumab, currently in clinical trials. Here we carried out the largest multi-centre evaluation of CD49d as a prognostic marker in 652 primary CLL samples. We confirm that CD49d is predictive for time to first treatment (P<0.0001) and overall survival (P<0.0001) and increases the prognostic power of CD38, ZAP-70 and IGHV gene mutation status in concordant cases. Furthermore, CD49d retained independent prognostic significance in multivariate analysis. In contrast to previous studies, we showed no correlation between CD49d expression and in vitro resistance to fludarabine in liquid cultures (P=0.28) but CD49d(hi) cells were significantly more resistant than CD49d(lo) cells when assays were carried out on fibronectin-coated plates (P=0.03). Furthermore, we showed for the first time that the expression of CD49d is strongly associated with expression of the chemokine receptor CXCR4 suggesting a co-ordinated role for these molecules in the trafficking of CLL cells to the lymphoid tissues. Taken together, our data support the introduction of CD49d into routine immunophenotyping panels for CLL and indicate that the therapeutic targeting of this molecule may prove useful in this disease.
We performed single-molecule telomere length and telomere fusion analysis in patients at different stages of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Our work identified the shortest telomeres ever recorded in primary human tissue, reinforcing the concept that there is significant cell division in CLL. Furthermore, we provide direct evidence that critical telomere shortening, dysfunction, and fusion contribute to disease progression. The frequency of short telomeres and fusion events increased with advanced disease, but importantly these were also found in a subset of early-stage patient samples, indicating that these events can precede disease progression. Sequence analysis of fusion events isolated from persons with the shortest telomeres revealed limited numbers of repeats at the breakpoint, subtelomeric deletion, and microhomology. Array-comparative genome hybridization analysis of persons displaying evidence of telomere dysfunction revealed large-scale genomic rearrangements that were concentrated in the telomeric regions; this was not observed in samples with longer telomeres. The telomere dynamics observed in CLL B cells were indistinguishable from that observed in cells undergoing crisis in culture after abrogation of the p53 pathway. Taken together, our data support the concept that telomere erosion and subsequent telomere fusion are critical in the progression of CLL and that this paradigm may extend to other malignancies.
Studies of the role of individual genes in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) have been hampered by the inability to consistently transfect primary tumor cells. Here, we describe a highly efficient method of genetically modifying primary CLL cells using a VSVG pseudotyped lentiviral vector. We transduced CD38 negative CLL cells with a lentiviral vector encoding CD38 which caused increased surface CD38 expression in all the samples tested (n=17) with no evidence of plasmacytoid differentiation. The mean percentage of positive cells expressing CD38 was 87%+/-8.5% and the mean cell viability 74%+/-17%. This high level of transduction of all the CLL cell samples tested demonstrates the utility of this technique which should prove applicable for the introduction and analysis of other genes in these non-dividing cells.
We recently demonstrated the biologic importance of the nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kappaB) subunit Rel A in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and hypothesized that Rel A DNA binding would have prognostic significance in this disease.
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