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Blood. 2008 Feb 15;111(4):2246-52. Epub 2007 Nov 28.

Short telomeres are associated with genetic complexity, high-risk genomic aberrations, and short survival in chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

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Department of Medical Biosciences, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden.


Telomere length is associated with mutation status of the immunoglobulin heavy chain variable (IGHV) gene and clinical course in B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (B-CLL). In a B-CLL cohort of 152 patients, we analyzed telomere length, genomic aberrations, IGHV mutation status, CD38 and ZAP-70 expression to study the prognostic impact and associations among these factors. An inverse correlation existed between telomere length and IGHV homology (P < .001), CD38 (P < .001), and ZAP-70 expression (P = .01). Patients with telomere lengths below median (ie, "short telomeres") and above median (ie, "long telomeres") had similar incidences of genomic aberrations (74% vs 68%), 13q- (57% vs 49%), and +12q (5% vs 12%). In contrast, 13q- as a single aberration was more frequent in patients with long telomeres (51% vs 21%; P = .006), whereas 11q- (27% vs 9%; P = .014), 17p- (17% vs 0%; P < .001), and 2 or more genomic aberrations (39% vs 8%; P < .001) were more frequent in patients with short telomeres. Compared with patients with long telomeres, treatment-free survival (TFS) and overall survival (OS) was significantly shorter (P < .001 and P = .015, respectively) in the group with short telomeres, and telomere length was an independent prognostic indicator for TFS. These observations have biological and prognostic implications in B-CLL.

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