This largest prospective multicenter trial for adult patients with Burkitt lymphoma/leukemia aimed to prove efficacy and feasibility of a short-intensive chemotherapy combined with the anti-CD20 antibody Rituximab. 363 patients 16 to 85 years old (median 42 yrs) were recruited in 98 centers from 8/2002 until 06/2011. Treatment consisted of 6 five-day chemotherapy cycles with high-dose methotrexate, high-dose cytosine arabinoside, cyclophosphamide, etoposide, ifosphamide, corticosteroids, and triple intrathecal therapy. Patients >55 years received a reduced regimen. Rituximab was given d -1 before each cycle and twice as maintenance, for a total of 8 doses. The complete remission rate was 88% (319/363), the overall survival (OS) at 5 years 80%, and the progression-free survival (PFS) 71%, with significant difference between adolescents (?15-25 yrs), adults (26-55 yrs) and elderly (>55 yrs) patients with an OS of 90%, 84%, and 62%. Full treatment could be applied in 86% of the patients. Most important prognostic factors were IPI (0-2 vs. 3-5, p=0.0005), aaIPI (0-1 vs. 2-3, p=0.0001), and gender (male vs. female, p=0.004). The high cure rate in this prospective trial with a substantial number of participating hospitals demonstrates the efficacy and feasibility of chemoimmunotherapy, also in elderly patients. The study is registered to www.clinicaltrials.gov as NCT00199082.
In rare instances, two distinct lymphomas concurrently occur in a patient. Such composite lymphomas can be combinations of two non-Hodgkin lymphomas or a combination of a non-Hodgkin lymphoma and a Hodgkin's lymphoma. Composite lymphomas pose a particular diagnostic challenge, and there are currently no agreed standards for treatment. Combined B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphomas are often clonally unrelated. However, in many composite non-Hodgkin lymphomas and Hodgkin's lymphomas, the tumours are clonally related. In most of these instances, the malignant clones developed separately from a common precursor, usually a germinal centre B cell. This finding suggests a scenario in which the common premalignant precursor had acquired shared transforming events, and the two distinct lymphomas developed from descendants of that precursor after acquiring additional separate transforming events. Findings from molecular studies support this notion. Hence, clonally related composite lymphomas are elegant models to study the multistep transformation process in lymphomagenesis.
A number of single nucleotide polymorphisms have been associated with disease predisposition in chronic lymphocytic leukemia. A single nucleotide polymorphism in the MDM2 promotor region, MDM2SNP309, was shown to soothe the p53 pathway. In the current study, we aimed to clarify the effect of the MDM2SNP309 on chronic lymphocytic leukemia characteristics and outcome. We performed a meta-analysis of data from 2598 individual patients from 10 different cohorts. Patients' data and genetic analysis for MDM2SNP309 genotype, immunoglobulin heavy chain variable region mutation status and fluorescence in situ hybridization results were collected. There were no differences in overall survival based on the polymorphism (log rank test, stratified by study cohort; P=0.76; GG genotype: cohort-adjusted median overall survival of 151 months; TG: 153 months; TT: 149 months). In a multivariable Cox proportional hazards regression analysis, advanced age, male sex and unmutated immunoglobulin heavy chain variable region genes were associated with inferior survival, but not the MDM2 genotype. The MDM2SNP309 is unlikely to influence disease characteristics and prognosis in chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Studies investigating the impact of individual single nucleotide polymorphisms on prognosis are often controversial. This may be due to selection bias and small sample size. A meta-analysis based on individual patient data provides a reasonable strategy for prognostic factor analyses in the case of small individual studies. Individual patient data-based meta-analysis can, therefore, be a powerful tool to assess genetic risk factors in the absence of large studies.
Perivascular mesenchymal stem and progenitor cells (MSPCs) are critical for forming a healthy hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) niche. However, the interactions and influence of acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) stem cells with the microenvironment remain largely unexplored. We have unexpectedly found that neuropathy of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) promotes leukemic bone marrow infiltration in an MLL-AF9 AML model. Development of AML disrupts SNS nerves and the quiescence of Nestin(+) niche cells, leading to an expansion of phenotypic MSPCs primed for osteoblastic differentiation at the expense of HSC-maintaining NG2(+) periarteriolar niche cells. Adrenergic signaling promoting leukemogenesis is transduced by the ?2, but not ?3, adrenergic receptor expressed on stromal cells of leukemic bone marrow. These results indicate that sympathetic neuropathy may represent a mechanism for the malignancy in order to co-opt the microenvironment and suggest separate mesenchymal niche activities for malignant and healthy hematopoietic stem cells in the bone marrow.
T-cell prolymphocytic leukemia (T-PLL) is an aggressive post-thymic T-cell malignancy characterized by the recurrent inv(14)(q11q32)/t(14;14)(q11;q32) or t(X;14)(q28;q11) leading to activation of either the TCL1 or MTCP1 gene, respectively. However, these primary genetic events are insufficient to drive leukemogenesis. Recently, activating mutations in JAK3 have been identified in other T-cell malignancies. Since JAK3 is essential for T-cell maturation, we analyzed a cohort of 32 T-PLL patients for mutational hot spots in the JAK3 gene using a step-wise screening approach. We identified 14 mutations in 11 of 32 patients (34%). The most frequently detected mutation in our cohort was M511I (seen in 57% of cases) previously described as an activating change in other T-cell malignancies. Three patients carried two mutations in JAK3. In two patients M511I and R657Q were simultaneously detected and in another patient V674F and V678L. In the latter case we could demonstrate that the mutations were on the same allele in cis. Protein modeling and homology analyses of mutations present in other members of the JAK family suggested that these mutations likely activate JAK3, possibly by disrupting the activation loop and the interface between N and C lobes, increasing the accessibility of the catalytic loop. In addition, four of the 21 patients lacking a JAK3 point mutation presented an aberrant karyotype involving the chromosomal band 19p13 harboring the JAK3 locus. The finding of recurrent activating JAK3 mutations in patients with T-PLL could enable the use of JAK3 inhibitors to treat patients with this unfavorable malignancy who otherwise have a very poor prognosis.
Altered numbers and functions of T cells have previously been demonstrated in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) patients. However, dynamics and specific T-cell subset alterations have not been studied in great detail. Therefore, we studied CLL blood lymphocyte subsets of individual patients in a longitudinal manner. Dynamic expansions of blood CD4 + and CD8 + T-cell numbers were consistently associated with a progressively increasing CLL leukemic compartment. Interestingly, the T-cell subset expansion over time was more pronounced in CD38 + CLL. Additionally, we performed gene expression profiling of CD3 + T cells of CLL patients and normal donors. Using gene set enrichment analysis, we found significant enrichment of genes with higher expression in CLL T cells within CD8+ effector memory and terminal effector T-cell gene signatures. In agreement with these data, we observed a marked expansion of phenotypic CD8 + effector memory T cells in CLL by flow cytometry. Moreover, we observed that increments of CD8 + effector memory T cells in human CLL and also mouse CLL (E?-TCL1 model) were due to an expansion of the inhibitory killer cell lectin-like receptor G1 (KLRG1) expressing cellular subset. Furthermore, higher plasma levels of the natural KLRG1 ligand E-cadherin were detected in CLL patients compared to normal donor controls. The predominance of KLRG1+ expression within CD8+ T cells in conjunction with increased systemic soluble E-cadherin might significantly contribute to CLL immune dysfunction and might additionally represent an important component of the CLL microenvironment.
The introduction of BEACOPP(escalated) (escalated-dose bleomycin, etoposide, doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide, vincristine, procarbazine, and prednisone) has significantly improved tumor control and overall survival in patients with advanced-stage Hodgkin lymphoma. However, this regimen has also been associated with higher treatment-related mortality (TRM). Thus, we analyzed clinical course and risk factors associated with TRM during treatment with BEACOPP(escalated).
Lymphomatoid granulomatosis (LG) is a very rare, Epstein-Barr virus-associated lymphoproliferative disorder of B cells. Prognosis is poor, particularly after relapse and no curative treatment exists. We report the results of high-dose therapy and autologous stem cell transplantation (ASCT) or reduced-intensity conditioning and allogeneic stem cell transplantation (alloSCT) in patients with multiply relapsed LG. A European Group for Blood and Marrow Transplantation survey identified 10 patients who had received 9 ASCT and 4 alloSCT. All patients had active disease at the time of transplantation. With a median follow-up of 5.1 (range, 1.4 to 6.3) years, 6 patients are alive and disease-free. Two ASCT patients died of septicemia early after transplantation, and 1 committed suicide after being in continuous complete remission 19 months after ASCT. Another patient allografted 4 years after ASCT remained disease-free but died of severe graft-versus-host disease 3 months after alloSCT. High-dose therapy followed by ASCT and alloSCT are effective therapeutic options and should be considered in all patients with refractory and multiply relapsed LG.
This study aims to determine prevalence and incidence of anemia in the general population in Germany and evaluate a potential role of serum-free light chains (FLC) as biomarker in anemia. The population-based Heinz Nixdorf Recall Study comprises 4,814 men and women aged 45-75 years. Hemoglobin <13 g/dl in men and <12 g/dl in women defined anemia. Laboratory data was used to classify cases into renal, iron deficiency (IDA), vitamin B12/folic acid deficiency, anemia of chronic disease (ACD), and unexplained anemia (UA). Follow-up data was available from annual questionnaires, death certificates, and 5-year follow-up visit (5-year FU). Anemia cases (152) were identified (prevalence 3.2 %, 95 % CI 2.7-3.7). In participants aged 65 or older, prevalence was 4.3 % (95 % CI 2.9-6.0) in both men and women. Main anemia subtypes were: IDA 19 %, ACD 25 %, and UA 44 %. Incidence increased with age and was 12.8/1,000 person-years and 10.9/1,000 person-years in men and women aged 65 or older, respectively. UA was characterized by elevated FLC. Participants with elevated FLC and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) had an increased risk of anemia at 5-year FU. FLC-alone or in combination with hsCRP-may serve as biomarker indicating an increased risk of developing anemia.
Early T-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ETP-ALL) has been identified as high-risk subgroup of acute T-lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) with a high rate of FLT3-mutations in adults. To unravel the underlying pathomechanisms and the clinical course we assessed molecular alterations and clinical characteristics in a large cohort of ETP-ALL (n = 68) in comparison to non-ETP T-ALL adult patients. Interestingly, we found a high rate of FLT3-mutations in ETP-ALL samples (n = 24, 35%). Furthermore, FLT3 mutated ETP-ALL was characterized by a specific immunophenotype (CD2+/CD5-/CD13+/CD33-), a distinct gene expression pattern (aberrant expression of IGFBP7, WT1, GATA3) and mutational status (absence of NOTCH1 mutations and a low frequency, 21%, of clonal TCR rearrangements). The observed low GATA3 expression and high WT1 expression in combination with lack of NOTCH1 mutations and a low rate of TCR rearrangements point to a leukemic transformation at the pluripotent prothymocyte stage in FLT3 mutated ETP-ALL. The clinical outcome in ETP-ALL patients was poor, but encouraging in those patients with allogeneic stem cell transplantation (3-year OS: 74%). To further explore the efficacy of targeted therapies, we demonstrate that T-ALL cell lines transfected with FLT3 expression constructs were particularly sensitive to tyrosine kinase inhibitors. In conclusion, FLT3 mutated ETP-ALL defines a molecular distinct stem cell like leukemic subtype. These data warrant clinical studies with the implementation of FLT3 inhibitors in addition to early allogeneic stem cell transplantation for this high risk subgroup.
Most patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) fail current treatments highlighting the need for better therapies. Because oncogenic signaling activates a p53-dependent DNA damage response and apoptosis, leukemic cells must devise appropriate countermeasures. We show here that growth factor independence 1 (Gfi1) can serve such a function because Gfi1 ablation exacerbates p53 responses and lowers the threshold for p53-induced cell death. Specifically, Gfi1 restricts p53 activity and expression of proapoptotic p53 targets such as Bax, Noxa (Pmaip1), and Puma (Bbc3). Subsequently, Gfi1 ablation cures mice from leukemia and limits the expansion of primary human T-ALL xenografts in mice. This suggests that targeting Gfi1 could improve the prognosis of patients with T-ALL or other lymphoid leukemias.
Progranulin (Pgrn) is a 88 kDa secreted protein with pleiotropic functions including regulation of cell cycle progression, cell motility, wound repair and tumorigenesis. Using microarray based gene expression profiling we have recently demonstrated that the gene for Pgrn, granulin (GRN), is significantly higher expressed in aggressive CD38(+)ZAP-70(+) as compared to indolent CD38(-)ZAP-70(-) chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) cases. Here, we measured Pgrn plasma concentrations by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) in the Essen CLL cohort of 131 patients and examined Pgrn for association with established prognostic markers and clinical outcome. We found that high Pgrn plasma levels were strongly associated with adverse risk factors including unmutated IGHV status, expression of CD38 and ZAP-70, poor risk cytogenetics (11q-, 17p-) as detected by flourescence in situ hybridization (FISH) and high Binet stage. Pgrn as well as the aforementioned risk factors were prognostic for time to first treatment and overall survival in this series. Importantly, these results could be confirmed in the independent multicentric CLL1 cohort of untreated Binet stage A patients (n?=?163). Here, multivariate analysis of time to first treatment revealed that high risk Pgrn (HR?=?2.06, 95%-CI?=?1.13-3.76, p?=?0.018), unmutated IGHV status (HR?=?5.63, 95%-CI?=?3.05-10.38, p<0.001), high risk as defined by the study protocol (HR?=?2.06, 95%-CI?=?1.09-3.89, p?=?0.026) but not poor risk cytogenetics were independent prognostic markers. In summary our results suggest that Pgrn is a novel, robust and independent prognostic marker in CLL that can be easily measured by ELISA.
In patients with multiple myeloma (MM), risk stratification by chromosomal abnormalities may enable a more rational selection of therapeutic approaches. In the present study, we analyzed the prognostic value of 12 chromosomal abnormalities in a series of 354 MM patients treated within the HOVON-65/GMMG-HD4 trial. Because of the 2-arm design of the study, we were able to analyze the effect of a bortezomib-based treatment before and after autologous stem cell transplantation (arm B) compared with standard treatment without bortezomib (arm A). For allanalyzed chromosomal aberrations, progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) were at least equal or superior in the bortezomib arm compared with the standard arm. Strikingly, patients with del(17p13) benefited the most from the bortezomib-containing treatment: the median PFS in arm A was 12.0 months and in arm B it was 26.2 months (P = .024); the 3 year-OS for arm A was 17% and for arm B it was 69% (P = .028). After multivariate analysis, del(17p13) was an independent predictor for PFS (P < .0001) and OS (P < .0001) in arm A, whereas no statistically significant effect on PFS (P = .28) or OS (P = .12) was seen in arm B. In conclusion, the adverse impact of del(17p13) on PFS and OS could be significantly reduced by bortezomib-based treatment, suggesting that long-term administration of bortezomib should be recommended for patients carrying del(17p13).
Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) is a rare, life-threatening and debilitating clonal blood disorder caused by an acquired mutation in the phosphatidylinositol glycan (PIG)-A gene. In pluripotent hematopoietic stem cells, this leads to a deficiency of glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchors and GPI-anchored proteins, including the complement regulators CD55 and CD59, on the surface of affected blood cells. PNH red blood cells are highly vulnerable to activation of complement and the formation of the membrane attack complex (MAC). The resulting chronic intravascular hemolysis is the underlying cause of PNH morbidities and mortality. Until recently, the treatment of PNH has been largely empirical and symptomatic with blood transfusions, anticoagulation, and supplementation with folic acid or iron. The only potentially curative treatment is allogeneic stem cell transplantation, but this has severe complications and high mortality and morbidity rates. A new targeted and disease-modifying treatment strategy is the inhibition of the terminal complement cascade with the humanized monoclonal anti-C5 antibody, eculizumab. This effectively inhibits MAC formation and intravascular hemolysis. Eculizumab has shown significant efficacy in controlled studies, with a marked decrease in anemia, fatigue, transfusion requirements, renal impairment, pulmonary hypertension, and risk of severe thromboembolic events, ultimately resulting in improving quality of life and survival.
The regulation of gene transcription is elementary for the function of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). The transcriptional repressor growth factor independence 1 (Gfi1) restricts HSC proliferation and is essential to maintain their self-renewal capacity and multipotency after transplantation. In addition, Gfi1(-/-) HSCs are severely compromised in their ability to compete with wild-type (wt) HSCs after transplantation. We now report that Gfi1 protects HSCs against stress-induced apoptosis, probably, by repressing the proapoptotic target gene Bax, since irradiated Gfi1(-/-) HSCs display higher expression of Bax and show a higher rate of apoptosis than wt HSCs. This protective function of Gfi1 appears to be functionally relevant since Gfi1(-/-) HSCs that express Bcl-2, which antagonizes the effects of Bax, regain their ability to self renew and to initiate multilineage differentiation after transplantation. Surprisingly, Gfi1(-/-) xBcl-2 transgenic mice also show a strong, systemic expansion of Mac-1(+) Gr-1(-) myeloid cells in bone marrow and peripheral lymphoid organs. These cells express high levels of the proleukemogenic transcription factor Hoxa9 and, in older mice, appear as atypical monocytoid-blastoid cells in the peripheral blood. As a result of this massive expansion of myeloid cells, all Gfi1(-/-) xBcl-2 mice eventually succumb to a myeloproliferative-like disease resembling a preleukemic state. In summary, our data demonstrate that Gfi1s ability to protect against apoptosis is essential for HSC function. In addition, our finding show that Gfi1 prevents the development of myeloproliferative diseases and provides evidence how Gfi1 deficiency could be linked to myeloid leukemia.
We explored the role of CD38 and functionally associated molecular risk factors in a recently described chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) nonobese diabetic/ severe combined immunodeficient xenograft model. Intravenous injection of peripheral blood mononuclear cells from 73 patients with CLL into 244 mice resulted in robust engraftment of leukemic cells into the murine spleens detected 4 wks after transplantation. Leukemic cell engraftment correlated significantly (P < 0.05) with markers reflecting disease activity, e.g., Binet stage and lymphocyte doubling time, and the expression of molecular risk factors including CD38, CD49d, ZAP-70, and IgVH mutational status. Increased engraftment levels of CD38+ as compared to CD38- CLL cells could be attributed, in part, to leukemic cell proliferation as evidenced by combined immunostaining of murine spleen sections for Ki-67 and CD20. In short-term (24 h) homing assays, CD38+ CLL cells migrated more efficiently to the bone marrow of the recipient animals than their CD38- counterparts. Finally, CD38 expression by the leukemic cells was found to be dynamic in that it was regulated not only by elements of the murine microenvironment but also by co-engrafting non-malignant human T cells. This model could be useful for evaluating the biological basis of CLL growth in the context of the hematopoietic microenvironment as well as preclinical testing of novel compounds.
The terminal complement inhibitor eculizumab has become the standard of treatment in patients with symptomatic paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH). In this retrospective study, 19 PNH patients received chronic therapy with eculizumab with a median duration of 16 months (range 6-46 months). Parameters of hemolysis, transfusion requirements, and serum iron parameters were analyzed. Lactate dehydrogenase levels were significantly decreased by 85% from a median of 1897 U/l (range 293-3360) to 283 U/l (range 143-667), with an 86% reduction of transfusion requirements, whereas other parameters of hemolysis remained abnormal. Six patients (31.6%) became completely transfusion independent. A significant increase in ferritin levels from a median of 104 ?g/l before to a median of 528 ?g/l (p = 0.011) during treatment with eculizumab was observed. This was more pronounced in patients with low reticulocyte production index and/or requiring blood transfusions. Monospecific direct Coombs test was positive in most PNH patients, indicating a shift to extravascular hemolysis. Positive immunofixation for IgG kappa was observed, due to the presence of eculizumab in the serum. Eculizumab was safe and well tolerated long term in our study population. Iron should not be routinely supplemented in PNH patients treated with eculizumab without close monitoring of iron parameters, and iron depletion therapy should be considered in the case of overload.
We determined the prevalence and progression rate of monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) and light-chain MGUS (LCMGUS) in Germany utilizing the biobank of the population-based Heinz Nixdorf Recall Study. The Heinz Nixdorf Recall Study comprises 4,814 men and women aged 45-75 years. To detect monoclonal proteins, standard serum electrophoresis was combined with parallel screening immunofixation using pentavalent antisera. Additionally, free light chains (FLC) were measured in all samples. Definition of MGUS included M-protein concentration, laboratory results, and disease history. LCMGUS was defined as abnormal FLC ratio, increase in FLC causing the abnormal ratio, and lack of intact immunoglobulin. One hundred sixty-five MGUS cases were identified among 4,702 screened samples (prevalence 3.5%, 95% confidence interval (CI) 3.0-4.1; median age 63 years, range 47-75 years; 103 (62%) male; IgG 59%, IgA 17%, IgM 17%, biclonal 4.8%, kappa 56%, and lambda 44%). Five cases progressed (0.6%/year, 95% CI 0.2-1.4). An abnormal FLC ratio was detected in 220 samples. Thirty-nine of these showed intact immunoglobulin. Thirty-four of the remaining met LCMGUS criteria (prevalence 0.7%, 95% CI 0.5-1.0). None of the LCMGUS cases progressed. We demonstrate a MGUS prevalence of 3.5% and a LCMGUS prevalence of 0.7% in the general population aged 45-75 years in Germany using a sensitive screening approach.
We evaluated the role of granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) in patients with severe aplastic anemia (SAA) treated with antithymocyte globulin (ATG) and cyclosporine (CSA). Between January 2002 and July 2008, 192 patients with newly diagnosed SAA not eligible for transplantation were entered into this multicenter, randomized study to receive ATG/CSA with or without G-CSF. Overall survival (OS) at 6 years was 76% ± 4%, and event-free survival (EFS) was 42% ± 4%. No difference in OS/EFS was seen between patients randomly assigned to receive or not to receive G-CSF, neither for the entire cohort nor in subgroups stratified by age and disease severity. Patients treated with G-CSF had fewer infectious episodes (24%) and hospitalization days (82%) compared with patients without G-CSF (36%; P = .006; 87%; P = .0003). In a post hoc analysis of patients receiving G-CSF, the lack of a neutrophil response by day 30 was associated with significantly lower response rate (56% vs 81%; P = .048) and survival (65% vs 87%; P = .031). G-CSF added to standard ATG and CSA reduces the rate of early infectious episodes and days of hospitalization in very SAA patients and might allow early identification of nonresponders but has no effect on OS, EFS, remission, relapse rates, and mortality. This study was registered at www.clinicaltrials.gov as NCT01163942.
In the present study, telomere length, telomerase activity, the mutation load of immunoglobulin variable heavy chain (IGHV) genes, and established prognostic factors were investigated in 78 patients with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) to determine the impact of telomere biology on the pathogenesis of CLL. Telomere length was measured by an automated multi-colour flow-FISH, and an age-independent delta telomere length (?TL) was calculated. CLL with unmutated IGHV genes was associated with shorter telomeres (p = 0.002). Furthermore, we observed a linear correlation between the frequency of IGHV gene mutations and elongation of telomeres (r = 0.509, p < 0.001). With respect to prognosis, a threshold ?TL of -4.2 kb was the best predictor for progression-free and overall survival. ?TL was not significantly altered over time or with therapy. The correlation between the mutational load in IGHV genes and the ?TL in CLL might reflect the initial telomere length of the putative cell of origin (pre- versus post-germinal center B cells). In conclusion, the ?TL is a reliable prognostic marker for patients with CLL. Short telomeres and high telomerase activity as occurs in some patients with CLL with a worse prognosis might be an ideal target for treatment with telomerase inhibitors.
The transcriptional regulator GATA1 is crucially involved in megakaryocytopoiesis and erythropoiesis. Mutations of the gene which is located on the X chromosome have been associated with platelet and red blood cell abnormalities. We identified a family with a GATA1 (G208R) mutation in whom a low male birth rate and frequent miscarriages among heterozygous females suggested increased fetal death in male hemizygotes. Female mutation carriers had normal or near normal hemoglobin levels and platelet counts ranging from normal to severely reduced, probably reflecting skewed X chromosome inactivation. Platelets were dimorphous, and thrombocytopenia was associated with erythroblastosis. The only living male mutation carrier had severe macrothrombocytopenia with life-threatening bleeding episodes, moderate to severe anemia, eosinopenia, skeletal abnormalities, and abundant extramedullary hematopoiesis. Long-term sequelae in the 50-year-old patient included unilateral nephrectomy following misinterpretation of paraspinal hematopoiesis as renal cancer, spinal stenosis which was possibly favored by progressive bone marrow expansion, and severe secondary gout.
To understand the influence of chromosomal alterations on gene expression in a genome-wide view, chromosomal imbalances detected by single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) chips were compared with global gene expression in 16 cases of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). A strong concordance between chromosomal gain or loss and increased or reduced expression of genes in the affected regions was found, respectively. Regions of uniparental disomy (UPD) were rare and had usually no consistent influence on gene expression, but in one instance, a large UPD was associated with a downregulation of most genes in the affected chromosome. The frequently deleted miRNAs, MIRN15A and MIRN16-1, did not show a reduced expression in cases with monoallelic deletions. The BCL2 protein, considered to be downregulated by these miRNAs, was upregulated not only in CLL with biallelic deletion of MIRN15A and MIRN16-1, but also in cases with monoallelic deletion. This suggests a complex regulation of BCL2 levels in CLL cells. Taken together, in CLL, a global gene dosage effect exists for chromosomal gains and deletions and in some instances for UPDs. We did not confirm a consistent correlation between MIRN15A and MIRN16-1 expression levels and BCL2 protein levels, indicating a complex regulation of BCL2 expression.
The proteasome system plays a crucial role in several malignant disorders, especially in multiple myeloma (MM). The G-allele of a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) -8C>G in the gene PSMA6, one of seven alpha-subunit genes of the 20S proteasome, was associated with myocardial infarction. Moreover, PSMA6 mRNA expression in human B-cell lines depended on genotypes. We investigated a potential role of this novel SNP in patients with MM.
The GFI1 gene encodes a transcriptional repressor, which regulates myeloid differentiation. In the mouse, Gfi1 deficiency causes neutropenia and an accumulation of granulomonocytic precursor cells that is reminiscent of a myelodysplastic syndrome. We report here that a variant allele of GFI1 (GFI1(36N)) is associated with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in white subjects with an odds ratio of 1.6 (P < 8 x 10(-5)). The GFI1(36N) variant occurred in 1806 AML patients with an allele frequency of 0.055 compared with 0.035 in 1691 healthy control patients in 2 independent cohorts. We observed that both GFI1 variants maintain the same activity as transcriptional repressors but differ in their regulation by the AML1/ETO (RUNX1/RUNX1T1) fusion protein produced in AML patients with a t(8;21) translocation. AML1/ETO interacts and colocalizes with the more common GFI1(36S) form in the nucleus and inhibits its repressor activity. However, the variant GFI1(36N) protein has a different subnuclear localization than GFI1(36S). As a consequence, AML1/ETO does not colocalize with GFI1(36N) and is unable to inhibit its repressor activity. We conclude that both variants of GFI1 differ in their ability to be regulated by interacting proteins and that the GFI1(36N) variant form exhibits distinct biochemical features that may confer a predisposition to AML.
A number of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) have been implicated to impact upon the disease course of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). However, few of these association studies could be confirmed in independent studies in the past. Recently, three independent studies did not confirm the prognostic impact of a new functional SNP in the BCL2 gene (-938C>A) described by Nückel et al. For this reason we genotyped an independent group of patients with CLL (n = 271) with mature follow up and detailed analysis of molecular genetics. The genotype distribution of this BCL2 polymorphism did not differ from that described in the original work. However, genotypes were not associated with time to first treatment (TFT) and overall survival (OS) in univariate or multivariate analysis in the current cohort. Comparing the characteristics of the two study cohorts in more detail we found differences between the two cohorts demonstrating a potentially more aggressive second study cohort. However, TFT and OS in patients with CLL according to Binet A did not differ significantly depending on the genotype. Our findings underscore the need for optimally matched patient cohorts in replication studies. The study re-emphasizes the need for large cohorts and validation in independent data sets before firm conclusions can be made about genotype-phenotype associations.
In aggressive non-Hodgkin lymphomas, the result of positron emission tomography (PET) with [18F]fluorodeoxyglucose performed after a few cycles of chemotherapy has been shown to correlate with long-term treatment outcome. The PETAL trial investigates whether a change in treatment protocol may improve the outcome of patients with a positive scan after two cycles of (R-)CHOP. Such patients are randomized to receive a further six cycles of (R-)CHOP or six blocks of the B-ALL protocol, a regimen for the treatment of Burkitt lymphoma. Precautions taken to minimize false-positive interim-PET results include adherence to a 3-week interval between chemotherapy and interim-PET scanning, avoidance of hematopoietic growth factors, and SUV-based rather than visual interim-PET assessment. So far, 175 patients have been enrolled of whom 128 have reached interim-PET scanning. In patients with a positive scan, relapses were six times more frequent than in patients with a negative scan. Recruitment into the trial continues.
Fc receptor-like 2 (FCRL2) is highly expressed on B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (B-CLL) cells and could possibly influence disease pathogenesis. Therefore, we investigated FCRL2 mRNA expression in a large cohort with 152 CLL patients in order to assess its role in risk prediction in B-CLL. FCRL2 mRNA expression was found to be expressed at considerably higher levels in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) of B-CLL patients compared to controls (range 1.35- to 210-fold upregulation; P < 0.0001) and cells of other hematological diseases. Patients with high FCRL2 expression (according to ROC-analysis) had a significantly longer treatment-free survival (TFS) and overall survival (OS) than patients with low FCRL2 expression (median TFS: 119 vs. 34 months, P < 0.0001; median OS: 321 months vs. not reached, P = 0.009). Univariate comparisons found that FCRL2 expression was weakly associated with IGHV mutation status (P = 0.05), CD38 status (P < 0.0001) and ZAP-70 status (P < 0.0001). Furthermore, we show that the combination of FCRL2 with ZAP70-, CD38- or IGHV-status could further significantly refine the prognostic information provided by either of the factors alone in TFS and OS. In multivariate analysis low FCRL2 expression was a significant independent prognostic factor (HR 2.4; P = 0.005). Here we demonstrate that the level of FCRL2 expression is correlated with prognosis in B-CLL.
The phase II CLL2H trial evaluated safety and efficacy of subcutaneous alemtuzumab in patients with fludarabine-refractory chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Clinical and biologic markers were evaluated for their impacts on outcome.
The objective of this study was to confirm previous results regarding the differential expression and prognostic significance of the circadian gene CRY1 in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) patients and its relationship with the expression of other circadian genes and well-established prognostic markers. We also aimed to investigate whether the peripheral circadian machinery may be deregulated in CLL cells. The expression of CRY1, PER1, and PER2 was determined by real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) in 116 CLL patients. The expression at sequential time points over a 24-h period was measured in six CLL patients and six normal donors. We confirmed the differential expression of CRY1 in ZAP-70(+)/CD38(+) and ZAP-70(-)/CD38(-) CLL samples. Subgroups formed according to CRY1 expression levels differed significantly in time to treatment. This difference was even more pronounced for subgroups stratified by a CRY1 : PER2 expression ratio and the ratio was an independent prognostic marker in a multivariate model. Furthermore, our data indicate disturbances in the periodic expression of circadian genes in CLL cells. Because of their role in the expression of cell cycle-related and DNA-damage response genes, we suggest that the deregulated expression of circadian genes may be linked to the molecular pathogenesis of CLL.
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is characterized by a number of T-cell abnormalities, which may play a causative role in disease progression and immune dysfunction. Recently, expression levels of CD38 in T cells have been suggested as a novel adverse prognostic factor in male CLL patients. In the current study, CD38 expression on CLL T cells was examined by flow cytometry in 126 patients with B-CLL and correlated with clinical parameters and established molecular risk factors. In line with previous results we observed a positive correlation of CD38 expression on leukemic B and non-leukemic T cells with clinical stage. CD38 expression on B-CLL cells, cytogenetic aberrations and mutations of IgVH genes were found to significantly influence treatment-free survival. By contrast, CD38 expression on T cells was not significantly associated with an adverse clinical outcome.
Gfi1b is a transcriptional repressor that is essential for erythroid cells and megakaryocytes, but is also expressed in hematopoietic stem cells and early myeloid progenitors. The chromosomal localization of the Gfi1b gene at 9q34 and its functional homology with the proto-oncogene Gfi1 were suggestive for a role of Gfi1b in malignant transformation and myeloid leukemia. We show here that the expression of Gfi1b is strongly elevated in CML and AML patients compared to normal healthy controls and that imatinib, a drug widely used to treat CML, further enhances Gfi1b expression in patients even after remission. Our data suggest that Gfi1b may be an important factor to establish or maintain myeloid leukemia and myeloproliferative diseases and that, high expression levels of Gfi1b might be associated with the emergence of Philadelphia chromosome negative myeloid malignancies after imatinib withdrawal or after the development of imatinib resistance.
In T-cell prolymphocytic leukemia (T-PLL), chromosomal imbalances affecting the long arm of chromosome 22 are regarded as typical chromosomal aberrations secondary to a TCRAD-TCL1A fusion due to inv(14) or t(14;14). We analyzed recently obtained data from conventional karyotyping, SNP-chip array copy number mapping, genome-wide expression profiling, and interphase fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) of inv(14)-positive T-PLL with respect to structural aberrations on chromosome 22. Combined gene chip and interphase FISH analyses revealed interstitial deletions on 22q in 4 of 12 cases, with one case additionally showing a terminal copy number gain. A minimally deleted region of approximately 9.1 Mb was delineated, from 16.2 Mb (22cen) to 25.3 Mb (22q12.1). The distal borders of copy number alterations spread over a region of approximately 8.8 Mb, from 25.2 Mb (22q12.1) to 34 Mb (22q12.3). Mutation screening of candidate tumor suppressor genes SMARCB1 and CHEK2 mapping to the minimally deleted and the breakpoint regions, respectively, in cases with hemizygous deletion, revealed no inactivating mutations. With gene expression profiling, no significantly downregulated genes were identified in the minimally deleted region. We therefore assume that haploinsufficiency or alternative pathomechanisms underlie chromosome 22 aberrations in T-PLL.
Bulky extramedullary hematopoiesis, usually detected in the thorax by imaging techniques, is a well-known complication in many types of congenital anemias. Here, we describe 12 cases of congenital dyserythropoietic anemia with extramedullary hematopoiesis which was always located in the paravertebral space of the thoracic spine and in other paraspinal regions in a few cases. All bulks were originally detected in chest radiographs and confirmed by imaging techniques such as computed tomography and/or magnetic resonance imaging. In some cases, thoracotomy was performed for suspected malignancy. Although the true prevalence is not known, paravertebral masses in patients with CDA of any type are not uncommon and should be the first differential diagnosis considered when masses adjacent to the spine are detected in this disorder.
CD49d plays a critical role in leucocyte trafficking, activation and survival, and facilitates interactions between leucocytes and stromal cells. Recent data give evidence for the prognostic relevance of CD49d protein expression in B-CLL. In our study we analyzed both the expression of CD49d protein and mRNA in a cohort of 101 CLL patients. The percentage of leukemic B-cells expressing CD49d determined by flow cytometry ranged from 0 to 100%. 37 patients with high CD49d protein expression >or=45% (according to ROC analysis) had a significantly shorter treatment-free survival (TFS) and overall survival (OS) than 64 patients with low CD49d expression (median TFS: 116 versus 43 months, p=0.015; median OS: not reached in both groups, p=0.018). CD49d protein expression was strongly associated with CD38 status (p=0.0001) and ZAP-70 status (p=0.03) but not with IGVH mutation. In multivariate analysis high CD49d expression was a significantly independent prognostic factor (HR 3.0; p=0.005). According to the strong correlation of CD49d protein expression with CD49d mRNA expression (r=0.39; p<0.0001) we could confirm the results on mRNA level with worse prognosis for patients with high mRNA level. Collectively, our data confirm the prognostic significance supporting the idea to use CD49d as target molecules for therapeutic approaches in B-CLL.
Older patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) experience short survival despite intensive chemotherapy. Azacitidine has promising activity in patients with low proliferating AML. The aim of this dose-finding part of this trial was to evaluate feasibility and safety of azacitidine combined with a cytarabine- and daunorubicin-based chemotherapy in older patients with AML.
The transcriptional repressor Gfi1 regulates the expression of genes important for survival, proliferation and differentiation of hematopoietic cells. Gfi1 deficient mice are severely neutropenic and accumulate ill-defined CD11b(+)GR1(int) myeloid cells. Here we show that Gfi1 expression levels determine mono- or granulocytic lineage choice in precursor cells. In addition, we identify CD48 as a cell surface marker which enables a better definition of monocytes and granulocytes in mouse bone marrow. Using the CD48/Gr1/Gfi1 marker combination we can show that the CD11b(+)GR1(int) cells accumulating in Gfi1 deficient mice are monocytes and not granulocyte precursors. Expression of CD48, Gr1 and Gfi1 define different bone marrow subpopulations that are either committed to the granulocytic lineage, or bipotential precursors of granulocytes or monocytes. Finally, a comparison of genes differentially expressed between murine Gfi1 high granulocytic precursors and mature granulocytes with gene expression changes from human myeloblasts versus neutrophils show a strong resemblance of human and mouse differentiation pathways. This underlines the value of the markers CD48 and Gfi1 identified here to study human and murine granulo-monocytic differentiation.
The standard treatment for relapsed diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) is salvage chemotherapy followed by high-dose therapy and autologous stem-cell transplantation (ASCT). The impact of maintenance rituximab after ASCT is not known.
The coding single nucleotide polymorphism GFI136N in the human gene growth factor independence 1 (GFI1) is present in 3%-7% of whites and increases the risk for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) by 60%. We show here that GFI136N, in contrast to GFI136S, lacks the ability to bind to the Gfi1 target gene that encodes the leukemia-associated transcription factor Hoxa9 and fails to initiate histone modifications that regulate HoxA9 expression. Consistent with this, AML patients heterozygous for the GFI136N variant show increased HOXA9 expression compared with normal controls. Using ChipSeq, we demonstrate that GFI136N specific epigenetic changes are also present in other genes involved in the development of AML. Moreover, granulomonocytic progenitors, a bone marrow subset from which AML can arise in humans and mice, show a proliferative expansion in the presence of the GFI136N variant. In addition, granulomonocytic progenitors carrying the GFI136N variant allele have altered gene expression patterns and differ in their ability to grow after transplantation. Finally, GFI136N can accelerate a K-RAS driven fatal myeloproliferative disease in mice. Our data suggest that the presence of a GFI136N variant allele induces a preleukemic state in myeloid precursors by deregulating the expression of Hoxa9 and other AML-related genes.
The CLL3 trial was designed to study intensive treatment including autologous stem cell transplantation (autoSCT) as part of first-line therapy in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Here, we present the long-term outcome of the trial with particular focus on the impact of genomic risk factors, and we provide a retrospective comparison with patients from the fludarabine-cyclophosphamide-rituximab (FCR) arm of the German CLL Study Group (GCLLSG) CLL8 trial. After a median observation time of 8.7 years (0.3-12.3 years), median progression-free survival (PFS), time to retreatment, and overall survival (OS) of 169 evaluable patients, including 38 patients who did not proceed to autoSCT, was 5.7, 7.3, and 11.3 years, respectively. PFS and OS were significantly reduced in the presence of 17p- and of an unfavorable immunoglobulin heavy variable chain mutational status, but not of 11q-. Five-year nonrelapse mortality was 6.5%. When 110 CLL3 patients were compared with 126 matched patients from the FCR arm of the CLL8 trial, 4-year time to retreatment (75% vs 77%) and OS (86% vs 90%) was similar despite a significant benefit for autoSCT in terms of PFS. In summary, early treatment intensification including autoSCT can provide very effective disease control in poor-risk CLL, although its clinical benefit in the FCR era remains uncertain. The trial has been registered with www.clinicaltrials.gov as NCT00275015.
Disruption of circadian rhythm is believed to play a critical role in cancer development. Cryptochrome 1 (CRY1) is a core component of the mammalian circadian clock and we have previously shown its deregulated expression in a subgroup of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Using real-time RT-PCR in a cohort of 76 CLL patients and 35 normal blood donors we now demonstrate that differential CRY1 mRNA expression in high-risk (HR) CD38+/immunoglobulin variable heavy chain gene (IgVH) unmutated patients as compared to low-risk (LR) CD38-/IgVH mutated patients can be attributed to down-modulation of CRY1 in LR CLL cases. Analysis of the DNA methylation profile of the CRY1 promoter in a subgroup of 57 patients revealed that CRY1 expression in LR CLL cells is silenced by aberrant promoter CpG island hypermethylation. The methylation pattern of the CRY1 promoter proved to have high prognostic impact in CLL where aberrant promoter methylation predicted a favourable outcome. CRY1 mRNA transcript levels did not change over time in the majority of patients where sequential samples were available for analysis. We also compared the CRY1 expression in CLL with other lymphoid malignancies and observed epigenetic silencing of CRY1 in a patient with B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL).
Multiple myeloma (MM) is frequently complicated by renal insufficiency, which is associated with an unfavorable prognosis. Serum cystatin C is a new and accurate marker of glomerular filtration rate. Global gene expression analysis has revealed serum cystatin C as one of the most highly upregulated genes in MM. Recent data have shown serum cystatin C as an independent prognostic marker in MM. To further elucidate the prognostic significance of serum cystatin C, we investigated pretreatment serum cystatin C levels in 68 newly diagnosed patients homogeneously treated with high-dose melphalan followed by autologous stem cell transplantation. Median serum cystatin C level in MM patients was significantly higher than in the 66 healthy controls (1.07 vs. 0.74 mg/L [p = 0.002]). Median serum cystatin C levels significantly increased with higher International Staging System (ISS) stages (stage I 0.72 mg/L; stage II 0.89 mg/L; stage III 1.28 mg/L; p < 0.0001). Higher serum cystatin C was positively correlated with higher serum levels of creatinine (r = 0.84; p < 0.0001), ?2-microglobulin (r = 0.72; p < 0.0001), LDH (r = 0.43; p = 0.0003), white blood cell counts (r = 0.61; p < 0.0001) and calcium (r = 0.29; p = 0.016), and negatively correlated with lower serum albumin levels (r = 0.44; p < 0.0001) and hemoglobin levels (r = 0.31; p = 0.01). Using ROC analysis, patients with serum cystatin C levels ?0.95 mg/L (n = 24) had a significantly shorter event-free survival (EFS) and overall survival (OS) than patients with serum cystatin C levels <0.95 mg/L (median EFS: 26 vs. 44 months, p < 0.0001; median OS: 54 vs. 68 months, p = 0.05). Moreover, the combination of serum cystatin C level and genomic aberrations further refined the prognostic information (EFS and OS) provided by either one of the factors. The level of serum cystatin C is not only a sensitive marker of renal function, but also reflects tumor burden and delivers prognostic information in MM.
Alterations in the function of the p53 pathway are frequently described in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), mostly associated with deletion of 17p13 and/or mutations of the TP53 gene. In the present study, we investigated 103 CLLs for the impact of protein expression of full-length p53 and its isoforms ? and ?. A strong correlation between deletions of 17p13 and an accumulation of full-length p53 protein was found and was associated with a worse outcome compared to CLL with normal p53 (treatment-free survival p < 0.001, overall survival p = 0.04). Interestingly, the relative expression levels between full-length p53 protein and its isoforms ? and ? were significantly altered in CLL even without deletions of 17p13, compared to normal B-cells (p = 0.005). Furthermore, CLLs with higher p53 protein ratios showed worse clinical courses compared to CLLs with lower p53 protein ratios. Taken together, the differential expression of p53 isoforms could disrupt the p53 response and contribute to CLL pathogenesis.
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