Purpose: Leukemic stem cells (LSCs) may harbor important resistance to tyrosine kinase inhibitors in chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). We identified Philadelphia chromosome (Ph)-positive CD34+CD38- bone marrow cells (here denoted LSCs) and addressed their response-predictive value in patients with CML (n = 48) subjected to nilotinib in the ENEST1st trial (NCT01061177). Experimental design: Two flow cytometry-based cell sorting methods were used with multiparameter-directed CD45-(MPFC) and BCR-ABL1 probe-linked (FISH) identification of Ph-positive cells, respectively. Results: We observed a positive correlation between the proportion of LSCs at diagnosis and established prognostic markers (blast count, spleen size, Sokal score, and hemoglobin). Conversely, a high LSC burden predicted for an inferior molecular response at 3 (MPFC and FISH), 6 (MPFC), 9 (FISH), and 15 months (FISH). During nilotinib therapy, the proportion of LSCs decreased rapidly. At 3 months, a median of only 0.3% LSCs remained among CD34+CD38- cells, and in 33% of the patients the LSC clone was not detectable anymore (FISH). The response kinetics was similar in LSC fractions as it was in the progenitor and unseparated bone marrow cell fractions. Conclusions: The proportion of LSCs at diagnosis, as analyzed by two independent methodologies, reflects the biology of the disease and appeared as a prognostic and response-predictive marker in patients with CML subjected to first-line nilotinib therapy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research