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The prognostic value of CD38 expression and its quantification in B cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (B-CLL)

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Tryfonia Mainou-Fowler, Professor Stephen Proctor


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A large number of prognostic factors are available to help predict the outcome of patients who present with B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (B-CLL). These include clinical stage, leukemic cell morphology, lymphocyte doubling time, the pattern of infiltration in bone marrow trephine biopsies, cytogenetic abnormalities, p53 function and serum factors such as beta-2 microglobulin. Two recently described major prognostic factors are immunoglobulin heavy chain variable region (IgVH) mutation status and cell membrane expression of CD38. These are both highly significant independent prognostic factors, but are not closely correlated. Whereas IgVH mutational status is a time consuming and demanding technique, only available in a limited number of centres, CD38 expression by flow cytometry is relatively simple and rapidly obtained in most diagnostic laboratories. The predictive value of CD38 expression is enhanced by measurement of antigen density in terms of antibody binding capacity (ABC) rather than as the percentage of cells expressing the antigen. ABC correlates closely with relative median fluorescence (RMF), a parameter which is even more simply and cheaply obtained by flow cytometry. One of these methods of determining CD38 expression should be employed routinely. Recent work suggests that membrane ZAP-70 expression determined by flow cytometry will prove to be an accurate proxy for IgVH mutational status and this assay will be within the reach of any laboratory skilled in flow cytometry. The combination of ZAP-70 expression, CD38 antigen density, p53 function and the concentration of serum factors such as soluble CD23, is likely to provide extremely accurate prognostic information in future studies. This will assist in identifying Stage A patients who may benfit from early and/or more intensive treatment, as well as Stage B and C patients who may require alternative treatment strategies at the outset.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Mainou-Fowler, T., Dignum, H. M., Proctor, S. J., Summerfield, G. P.

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Leukemia and Lymphoma

Year: 2004

Volume: 45

Issue: 3

Pages: 455-462

Print publication date: 01/03/2004

ISSN (print): 1042-8194

ISSN (electronic): 1026-8022


DOI: 10.1080/1042819032000141275

PubMed id: 15160906