Activating mutations in CD79 and MYD88 have recently been found in a subset of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), identifying B-cell receptor and MYD88 signalling as potential therapeutic targets for personalized treatment. Here, we report the prevalence of CD79B and MYD88 mutations and their relation to established clinical, phenotypic and molecular parameters in a large panel of DLBCLs. We show that these mutations often coexist and demonstrate that their presence is almost mutually exclusive with translocations of BCL2, BCL6 and cMYC, or Epstein–Bar virus infection. Intriguingly, MYD88 mutations were by far most prevalent in immune-privileged site-associated DLBCL (IP-DLBCL), presenting in central nervous system (75%) or testis (71%) and relatively uncommon in nodal (17%) and gastrointestinal tract lymphomas (11%). Our results suggest that MYD88 and CD79B mutations are important drivers of IP-DLBCLs and endow lymphoma-initiating cells with tissue-specific homing properties or a growth advantage in these barrier-protected tissues.
DLBCL; MYD88; CD79; lymphoma
Despite improved outcomes in multiple myeloma (MM), a cure remains elusive. However, even before the current therapeutic era, 5% of patients survived >10 years and we propose that immune factors contribute to this longer survival. We identified patients attending our clinic, who had survived >10 years (n=20) and analysed their blood for the presence of T-cell clones, T-regulatory cells (Tregs) and T helper 17 (Th17) cells. These results were compared with MM patients with shorter follow-up and age-matched healthy control donors. The frequency of cytotoxic T-cell clonal expansions in patients with <10 years follow-up (MM patients) was 54% (n=144), whereas it was 100% (n=19/19) in the long-survivors (LTS-MM). T-cell clones from MM patients proliferated poorly in vitro, whereas those from LTS-MM patients proliferated readily (median proliferations 6.1% and 61.5%, respectively (P<0.0001)). In addition, we found significantly higher Th17 cells and lower Tregs in the LTS-MM group when compared with the MM group. These results indicate that long-term survival in MM is associated with a distinct immunological profile, which is consistent with decreased immune suppression.
myeloma; T-cell clones; Tregs; Th17 cells
Developing effective therapies against multiple myeloma (MM) is an unresolved challenge. Phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K) activation may be associated with tumor progression and drug resistance, and inhibiting PI3K can induce apoptosis in MM cells. Thus, targeting of PI3K is predicted to increase the susceptibility of MM to anticancer therapy. The lead compound of a novel class of PI3K inhibitors, BAY80-6946 (IC50=0.5 nM against PI3K-α), was highly efficacious in four different MM cell lines, where it induced significant antitumoral effects in a dose-dependent manner. The compound inhibited cell cycle progression and increased apoptosis (P<0.001 compared with controls). Moreover, it abrogated the stimulation conferred by insulin-like growth-factor-1, a mechanism relevant for MM progression. These cellular effects were paralleled by decreased Akt phosphorylation, the main downstream target of PI3K. Likewise, profound antitumoral activity was observed ex vivo, as BAY80-6946 significantly inhibited proliferation of freshly isolated myeloma cells from three patients (P<0.001 compared with vehicle). In addition, BAY80-6946 showed convincing in vivo activity against the human AMO-1 and MOLP-8 myeloma cell lines in a preclinical murine xenograft model, where treatment with 6 mg/kg every other day for 2 weeks reduced the cell numbers by 87.0% and 69.3%, respectively (P<0.001 compared with vehicle), without overt toxicity in treated animals.
myeloma; chemoresistance; PI3 kinase
In this report, we provide a comprehensive review on the preclinical and clinical investigations conducted in development of the next-generation immunomodulatory drug (IMiD) pomalidomide for the treatment of relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma (MM). We consulted PubMed, MEDLINE, ASH, ASCO annual symposium abstracts and http://clinicaltrials.gov/ for the purpose of this literature review. Twenty-six preclinical and 11 clinical studies were examined. These studies delineate the mechanisms of action of pomalidomide and attest to the robust clinical activity in relapsed/refractory MM. MM is the second most common hematological malignancy in the US. Despite availability of several therapeutic agents, MM remains incurable. Thus, the development of new therapies remains a priority. Pomalidomide is the newest member of the IMiDs class of drugs, and in preclinical and clinical investigations, it has demonstrated an improved efficacy and toxicity profile in comparison to its sister compounds, lenalidomide and thalidomide. Importantly, recent clinical studies have demonstrated its activity in relapsed or refractory myeloma, particularly in lenalidomide and bortezomib-refractory patients. Thus, the addition of pomalidomide to the anti-myeloma armamentarium is widely anticipated to have a significant impact on the overall clinical outcome of advanced stage relapsed and refractory MM patients.
multiple myeloma; immunomodulatory agents; pomalidomide; treatment
Reduced expression and activity of the proapoptotic, double-stranded RNA-dependent protein kinase, PKR (protein kinase R) is observed in breast, lung and various leukemias, suggesting that loss of PKR potentiates transformation. Now we report that decreased PKR activity inhibits chemotherapy-induced apoptosis of leukemia cells both in vitro and in vivo. Inhibition of PKR expression or activity reduces protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) activity, a B-cell lymphoma 2 (Bcl-2) phosphatase, resulting in enhanced Bcl-2 phosphorylation. Thus, inhibition of PKR activity leads to hyperphosphorylation of Bcl-2, stabilization of Bcl-2/Bax interaction and decreased Bax insertion into the outer mitochondrial membrane. Treatment with the PP2A activator, FTY720, restores Bcl-2 dephosphorylation and apoptosis in cells with reduced PKR expression following stress. Significantly, xenografts of REH leukemic cells with reduced PKR display significantly increased tumor volume, increased resistance to doxorubicin treatment and shorter survival. Importantly, FTY720 treatment restores sensitivity to chemotherapy and prolongs overall survival of these mice. Collectively, these findings suggest that PP2A activation is a downstream target of PKR and the PKR/PP2A signaling axis is required for rapid and potent stress-induced apoptosis. Importantly, loss of PKR promotes leukemia progression and may serve as a biomarker for predicting chemosensitivity.
leukemia; PKR; apoptosis; Bcl-2; PP2A
The ability to target myeloid leukemia with immunotherapy would represent a significant therapeutic advance. We report here immunological analysis of clinical trials of primary and secondary vaccination with K562/GM-CSF immunotherapy in adult chronic phase chronic myeloid leukemia patients (CML-CP) with suboptimal responses to imatinib mesylate. Using serological analysis of recombinant cDNA expression libraries of K562 with autologous vaccinated patient serum, we have identified 12 novel chronic myeloid leukemia-associated antigens (LAAs). We show that clinical responses following K562/GM-CSF vaccination are associated with induction of high-titer antibody responses to multiple LAAs. We observe markedly discordant patterns of baseline and induced antibody responses in these identically vaccinated patients. No single antigen was recognized in all responses to vaccination. We demonstrate that an additional ‘booster' vaccination series can be given safely to those with inadequate responses to initial vaccination, and is associated with more frequent induction of IgG responses to antigens overexpressed in K562 vaccine compared with primary CML-CP. Finally, those with induced immune responses to the same LAAs often shared HLA subtypes and patients with clinical responses following vaccination recognized a partially shared but non-identical spectrum of antigens; both findings have potentially significant implications for cancer vaccine immunotherapy.
leukemia; chronic myeloid; cancer vaccines; immunotherapy; K562 cells
Despite significant progress in treatment, chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) remains an incurable disease. Advances have been made to understand the molecular pathogenesis underlying CLL progression and treatment resistance. We here review the available evidences concerning the role of the B-cell receptor (BCR) and the tumor microenvironment interactions in CLL pathogenesis. Antigen likely has a key role in the selection of the tumoral clone, the mutational status of immunoglobulin genes is a strong prognostic predictor and BCR signaling has been postulated to have a role for CLL trafficking and interaction with the stromal microenvironment. There is also important evidence, favoring a role for the microenvironment in CLL pathogenesis. Most, if not all, proliferative events occur in the lymph nodes and bone marrow, where leukemic cells receive through microenvironment interactions survival signals aiming to avoid apoptosis and acquire favorable tumoral growing conditions. In addition, the tumoral microenvironment appears to be the site where the acquisition of additional genetic lesions in the clone occur, which should greatly influence clinical outcome. The advent of new tyrosine kinase inhibitors which seem to be able to modulate microenvironment interactions and circumvent the p53 deletion have generated significant promise by raising the possibility that they could provide significant progress in disease treatment.
chronic lymphocytic leukemia; B-cell receptor; microenvironment
Flow-cytometric detection of minimal residual disease (MRD) has proven in several single-institute studies to have an independent prognostic impact. We studied whether this relatively complex approach could be performed in a multicenter clinical setting. Five centers developed common protocols to accurately define leukemia-associated (immuno)phenotypes (LAPs) at diagnosis required to establish MRD during/after treatment. List mode data files were exchanged, and LAPs were designed by each center. One center, with extensive MRD experience, served as the reference center and coordinator. In quarterly meetings, consensus LAPs were defined, with the performance of centers compared with these. In a learning (29 patients) and a test phase (35 patients), a mean of 2.2 aberrancies/patient was detected, and only 1/63 patients (1.6%) had no consensus LAP(s). For the four centers without (extensive) MRD experience, clear improvement could be shown: in the learning phase, 39–63% of all consensus LAPs were missed, resulting in a median 30% of patients (range 21–33%) for whom no consensus LAP was reported; in the test phase, 27–40% missed consensus LAPs, resulting in a median 16% (range 7–18%) of ‘missed' patients. The quality of LAPs was extensively described. Immunophenotypic MRD assessment in its current setting needs extensive experience and should be limited to experienced centers.
minimal residual disease; flow cytometry; multicenter
In the peripheral blood leukocytes (PBLs) from the carriers of the human T-lymphotropic virus type-1 (HTLV-1) or the patients with adult T-cell leukemia (ATL), nuclear factor kappaB (NF-κB)-mediated antiapoptotic signals are constitutively activated primarily by the HTLV-1-encoded oncoprotein Tax. Tax interacts with the I κB kinase regulatory subunit NEMO (NF-κB essential modulator) to activate NF-κB, and this interaction is maintained in part by a molecular chaperone, heat-shock protein 90 (HSP90), and its co-chaperone cell division cycle 37 (CDC37). The antibiotic geldanamycin (GA) inhibits HSP90's ATP binding for its proper interaction with client proteins. Administration of a novel water-soluble and less toxic GA derivative, 17-dimethylaminoethylamino-17-demethoxygeldanamycin hydrochloride (17-DMAG), to Tax-expressing ATL-transformed cell lines, C8166 and MT4, induced significant degradation of Tax. 17-DMAG also facilitated growth arrest and cellular apoptosis to C8166 and MT4 and other ATL cell lines, although this treatment has no apparent effects on normal PBLs. 17-DMAG also downregulated Tax-mediated intracellular signals including the activation of NF-κB, activator protein 1 or HTLV-1 long terminal repeat in Tax-transfected HEK293 cells. Oral administration of 17-DMAG to ATL model mice xenografted with lymphomatous transgenic Lck-Tax (Lck proximal promoter-driven Tax transgene) cells or HTLV-1-producing tumor cells dramatically attenuated aggressive infiltration into multiple organs, inhibited de novo viral production and improved survival period. These observations identified 17-DMAG as a promising candidate for the prevention of ATL progression.
17-DMAG; molecular chaperon; Tax; ATL; apoptosis; transgenic model
Minimal residual disease (MRD) is of the most important factor for predicting prognosis and guiding treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). In this study, we investigated the prognostic significance of leukemia-associated immunophenotypes (LAIPs) as assessment of index of MRD in 125 adult B-lineage ALL (B-ALL) patients by eight-color flow cytometry. The LAIPs could be identified in 96% and 81.6% of patients with the sensitivity of 10−4 and 10−5, respectively. MRD-negative status could clearly predict a favorable 2-year relapse-free survival (RFS) and overall survival (OS) at the end of induction of complete remission and one cycle of consolidation treatment. Moreover, we identified a group of cases with MRD of 0.001% to <0.01%, which showed significantly higher 2-year relapse rate than those with undetectable one. In multivariate analysis, MRD status was associated with RFS or OS independently. Furthermore, MRD assessed by LAIPs and RQ-PCR assay for patients with BCR-ABL fusion gene yielded concordant results in 89.7% of cases. In conclusion, MRD evaluated by eight-color flow cytometry could provide an important tool to assess treatment response and prognosis precisely in adult B-ALL.
B-acute lymphoblastic leukemia; prognosis; minimal residual disease; leukemia-associated immunophenotypes; eight-color flow cytometry
Follicular lymphomas (FLs) account for 35–40% of all adult lymphomas. Treatment typically involves chemotherapy combined with the anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody (MAb) rituximab (RTX). The development of the type II anti-CD20 MAb obinutuzumab (GA101) aims to further improve treatment. Here, using FL cells we show that RTX and GA101 display a similar activity on RL cells cultured in 2D. However, 2D culture cannot mimic tumor spatial organization and conventional 2D models may not reflect the effects of antibodies as they occur in vivo. Thus, we created a non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) 3D culture system, termed multicellular aggregates of lymphoma cells (MALC), and used it to compare RTX and GA101 activity. Our results show that both antibodies display greater activity towards FL cells in 3D culture compared with 2D culture. Moreover, we observed that in the 3D model GA101 was more effective than RTX both in inhibiting MALC growth through induction of (lysosomal) cell death and senescence and in inhibiting intracellular signaling pathways, such as mammalian target of rapamycin, Akt, PLCgamma (Phospholipase C gamma) and Syk. Altogether, our study demonstrates that spatial organization strongly influences the response to antibody treatment, supporting the use of 3D models for the testing of therapeutic agents in NHL.
spatial organization; monoclonal antibodies; follicular lymphoma; 3D model
Previous studies have demonstrated that p210 BCR/ABL1 interacts directly with the xeroderma pigmentosum group B (XPB) protein, and that XPB is phosphorylated on tyrosine in cells that express p210 BCR/ABL1. In the current study, we have constructed a p210 BCR/ABL1 mutant that can no longer bind to XPB. The mutant has normal kinase activity and interacts with GRB2, but can no longer phosphorylate XPB. Loss of XPB binding is associated with reduced expression of c-MYC and reduced transforming potential in ex-vivo clonogenicity assays, but does not affect nucleotide excision repair in lymphoid or myeloid cells. When examined in a bone marrow transplantation (BMT) model for chronic myelogenous leukemia, mice that express the mutant exhibit attenuated myeloproliferation and lymphoproliferation when compared with mice that express unmodified p210 BCR/ABL1. Thus, the mutant-transplanted mice show predominantly neutrophilic expansion and altered progenitor expansion, and have significantly extended lifespans. This was confirmed in a BMT model for B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, wherein the majority of the mutant-transplanted mice remain disease free. These results suggest that the interaction between p210 BCR/ABL1 and XPB can contribute to disease progression by influencing the lineage commitment of lymphoid and myeloid progenitors.
chronic myelogenous leukemia; p210 BCR/ABL1; XPB; NER; DNA repair
Donor lymphocyte infusion (DLI) is commonly used to treat leukemia relapse following stem cell transplantation. In florid relapse, however, the efficacy of DLI is limited with substantial risk of severe graft-versus-host disease (GvHD). Here, we develop a novel risk-adapted strategy characterized by pre-emptive DLI initiated at the time of mixed chimerism, a small starting dose based on donor source, dose-escalation guided by real-time chimerism monitoring and withholding of DLI immediately in patients achieving full donor chimerism. A total of 178 DLIs were given to 38 patients with mixed chimerism; thereafter, 33 patients (86.8%) had donor chimerism successfully increased, including 30 (78.9%) who had chimerism fully converted back to 100% donor. Cumulative incidence of relapse was significantly lower (P=0.00004) and overall survival higher (P=0.0003) in patients with chimerism fully corrected as compared with those of patients whose chimerism remained mixed. Only 13.2% of the patients developed acute grade III-IV GvHD with no associated mortality. In conclusion, the risk-adapted DLI strategy is useful in minimizing the risk of childhood leukemia relapse, GvHD and death.
donor lymphocyte infusion; leukemia; mixed chimerism; transplantation
We previously reported that CagA can be translocated into B cells in Helicobacter pylori (HP) coculture media, and the translocation appears biologically significant as activation of the relevant cellular pathways was noticed. In this study, we further explore if CagA can be detected in malignant B cells of HP-positive gastric mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) lymphoma. Expression of CagA was evaluated by immunohistochemistry. CagA expression was further confirmed by western blot analysis. The association between CagA expression in malignant B cells and tumor response to HP eradication therapy (HPE) was evaluated in 64 stage IE gastric MALT lymphoma patients. We detected CagA expression in 31 (48.4%) of 64 patients: 26 (68.4%) of the 38 HP-dependent cases and 5 (19.2%) of the 26 HP-independent cases (P<0.001). Patients with CagA expression responded to HPE quicker than those without (median time to complete remission, 3.0 vs 6.5 months, P=0.025). Our results indicated that CagA can be translocated into malignant B cells of MALT lymphoma, and the translocation is clinically and biologically significant.
MALT lymphoma; CagA; stomach; antibiotics
Rhabdoviruses (RVs) are currently being pursued as anticancer therapeutics for various tumor types, notably leukemia. However, modest virion production and limited spread between noncontiguous circulating leukemic cells requires high-dose administration of RVs, which exceeds the maximum tolerable dose of the live virus. Furthermore, in severely immunosuppressed leukemic patients, the potential for uncontrolled live virus spread may compromise the safety of a live virus approach. We hypothesized that the barriers to oncolytic virotherapy in liquid tumors may be overcome by administration of high-dose non-replicating RVs. We have developed a method to produce unique high-titer bioactive yet non-replicating rhabdovirus-derived particles (NRRPs). This novel biopharmaceutical is multimodal possessing direct cytolytic and immunomodulatory activity against acute leukemia. We demonstrate that NRRP resistance in normal cells is mediated by intact antiviral defences including interferon (IFN). This data was substantiated using murine models of blast crisis. The translational promise of NRRPs was demonstrated in clinical samples obtained from patients with high-burden multidrug-resistant acute myeloid leukemia. This is the first successful attempt to eradicate disseminated cancer using a non-replicating virus-derived agent, representing a paradigm shift in our understanding of oncolytic virus-based therapies and their application toward the treatment of acute leukemia.
acute leukemia; oncolytic virus; non-replicative rhabdovirus-derived particles; NRRP
Paediatric B-precursor ALL is a highly curable disease, however, treatment resistance in some patients and the long-term toxic effects of current therapies pose the need for more targeted therapeutic approaches. We addressed the cytotoxic effect of JQ1, a highly selective inhibitor against the transcriptional regulators, bromodomain and extra-terminal (BET) family of proteins, in paediatric ALL. We showed a potent in vitro cytotoxic response of a panel of primary ALL to JQ1, independent of their prognostic features but dependent on high MYC expression and coupled with transcriptional downregulation of multiple pro-survival pathways. In agreement with earlier studies, JQ1 induced cell cycle arrest. Here we show that BET inhibition also reduced c-Myc protein stability and suppressed progression of DNA replication forks in ALL cells. Consistent with c-Myc depletion and downregulation of pro-survival pathways JQ1 sensitised primary ALL samples to the classic ALL therapeutic agent dexamethasone. Finally, we demonstrated that JQ1 reduces ALL growth in ALL xenograft models, both as a single agent and in combination with dexamethasone. We conclude that targeting BET proteins should be considered as a new therapeutic strategy for the treatment of paediatric ALL and particularly those cases that exhibit suboptimal responses to standard treatment.
BET proteins; inhibitor; ALL