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Haematologica. 2013 Apr;98(4):626-34. doi: 10.3324/haematol.2012.071910. Epub 2012 Nov 9.

Association between B-cell receptor responsiveness and disease progression in B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia: results from single cell network profiling studies.

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Nodality Inc., South San Francisco, CA, USA.


While many prognostic markers in B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia provide insight into the biology of the disease, few have been demonstrated to be useful in the daily management of patients. B-cell receptor signaling is a driving event in the progression of B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia and markers of B-cell receptor responsiveness have been shown to be of prognostic value. Single cell network profiling, a multiparametric flow cytometry-based assay, allows functional signaling analysis at the level of the single cell. B-cell receptor signaling proteins (i.e. p-SYK, p-NF-κB p65, p-ERK, p-p38, p-JNK) were functionally characterized by single cell network profiling in samples from patients with B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia in an exploratory study (n=27) after stimulation with anti-IgM. Significant associations of single cell network profiling data with clinical outcome (i.e. time to first treatment), as assessed by Cox regression models, were then confirmed in patients' samples in two other sequential independent studies, i.e. test study 1 (n=30), and test study 2 (n=37). In the exploratory study, higher responsiveness of the B-cell receptor signaling proteins to anti-IgM was associated with poor clinical outcomes. Patients' clustering based on signaling response was at least as powerful in discriminating different disease courses as traditional prognostic markers. In an unselected subgroup of patients with Binet stage A disease (n=21), increased anti-IgM-modulated p-ERK signaling was shown to be a significant, independent predictor of shorter time to first treatment. This result was independently confirmed in two test cohorts from distinct populations of patients. In conclusion, these findings support the utility of the single cell network profiling assay in elucidating signaling perturbations with the potential for the development of a clinically useful prognostic test in patients with early stage B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia. These data support the clinical relevance of B-cell receptor signaling in B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and suggest a key role of ERK activation in the physiopathology of this leukemia.

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