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Leuk Lymphoma. 2013 Nov;54(11):2351-64. doi: 10.3109/10428194.2013.783913. Epub 2013 Apr 30.

Prognostic markers and their clinical applicability in chronic lymphocytic leukemia: where do we stand?

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  • 1Department of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology, Uppsala University , Uppsala , Sweden.


Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is a clinically and biologically heterogeneous disease where the majority of patients have an indolent disease course, while others may experience a far more aggressive disease, treatment failure and poor overall survival. During the last two decades, there has been an intense search to find novel biomarkers that can predict prognosis as well as guide treatment decisions. Two of the most reliable molecular prognostic markers, both of which are offered in routine diagnostics, are the immunoglobulin heavy chain variable (IGHV) gene mutational status and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) detection of prognostically relevant genomic aberrations (e.g. 11q-, 13q-, +12 and 17p-). In addition to these markers, a myriad of additional biomarkers have been postulated as potential prognosticators in CLL, on the protein (e.g. CD38, ZAP70, TCL1), the RNA (e.g. LPL, CLLU1, micro-RNAs) and the genomic (e.g. TP53, NOTCH1, SF3B1 and BIRC3 mutations) level. Efforts are now being made to test these novel markers in larger patient cohorts as well as in prospective trials, with the ultimate goal to combine the "best" markers in a "CLL prognostic index" applicable for the individual patient. Although it is clear that these studies have significantly improved our knowledge regarding both prognostication and the biology of the disease, there is still an immediate need for recognizing biomarkers that can predict therapy response, and efforts should now focus on addressing this pertinent issue. In the present article, we review the extensive literature in the field of prognostic markers in CLL, focus on the most clinically relevant markers and discuss future directions regarding biomarkers in CLL.

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