[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Deregulation of the miR-15a/16-1 cluster plays a key role in the pathogenesis of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), a clinically heterogeneous disease with indolent and aggressive forms. The miR-15a/16-1 locus is located at 13q14, the most frequently deleted region in CLL. Starting from functional investigations of a rare SNP upstream the miR cluster, we identified a novel allele-specific mechanism that exploits a cryptic activator region to recruit the RNA polymerase (RP) III for miR-15a/16-1 transcription. This regulation of the miR-15a/16-1 locus is independent of the DLEU2 host gene, which is often transcribed monoallellically by RPII. We found that normally one allele of miR-15a/16-1 is transcribed by RNAPII, the other one by RNAPIII. In our subset of CLL patients harboring 13q14 deletions, exclusive RPIII-driven transcription of the miR-15a/16-1 was the consequence of loss of the RPII-regulated allele and correlated with high expression of the poor prognostic marker ZAP70 (P=0.019). Thus, our findings point to a novel biological process, characterized by double allele-specific transcriptional regulation of the miR-15a/16-1 locus by alternative mechanisms. Differential usage of these mechanisms may distinguish at onset aggressive from indolent forms of CLL. This provides a basis for the clinical heterogeneity of the CLL patients carrying 13q14 deletions.Leukemia accepted article peview online, 15 April 2014. doi:10.1038/leu.2014.139.
Leukemia: official journal of the Leukemia Society of America, Leukemia Research Fund, U.K 04/2014; · 10.16 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The current standard first line therapy for fit patients with B-CLL/SLL is based on combination of fludarabine-cyclophosphamide and rituximab. However, elderly patients or patients with comorbidities poorly tolerate purine analogue-based chemotherapy and they are often treated with Chlorambucil (Chl) only. However, complete response (CR) and overall response (OR) rates with Chl are relatively low. We now investigated whether the addition of Rituximab to Chl will improve the efficacy without impairing the tolerability in elderly and unfit patients. We included in our study 27 elderly or unfit patients that had not received prior therapy. All patients were treated with Chl (1mg/Kg per 28-day cycle for 8 cycles) plus Rituximab (375 mg/m(2) for the first course and 500 mg/m(2) for subsequent cycles until the 6(th) cycle). We obtained an OR rate of 74%. The most frequent adverse effect was grade 3-4 neutropenia, which occurred in 18.5% of the patients. Infections or grade 3-4 extra-hematological side effects were not recorded. None of the patients required reduction of dose, delay of therapy or hospitalization. Overall, these data suggest that Chl-R is an effective and well tolerated regimen in elderly/unfit patients with CLL.
Mediterranean Journal of Hematology and Infectious Diseases 01/2013; 5(1):e2013031.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Lymphedema (LE) is a chronic medical condition characterized by lymphatic fluid retention, resulting in tissue swelling. Cancer treatments involving lymph nodes can damage lymph drainage routes, causing accumulation of lymph fluid in the interstitial tissue of related limbs and body areas and secondary LE. Basically, the LE has a negative impact on physical and mental quality of life. Moreover, 0.07-0.04% of long term survivors (most patients undergoing mastectomy) can develop the Stewart-Treves syndrome, a rare and aggressive multifocal lymphangiosarcoma arising within the LE region. Here we describe the case of a 45-year-old woman with a massive LE of the left arm, as a consequence of previous breast cancer, who was diagnosed after 4 years of stage IV mantle cell lymphoma (MCL). The patient, after obtaining complete remission with chemotherapy and autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplant, had a relapse of MCL in the lymphedema site.
Mediterranean Journal of Hematology and Infectious Diseases 01/2013; 5(1):e2013016.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Autoimmune cytopenias are a frequent complication in CLL, occurring in approximately 5-10% of the patients. The most common manifestation is autoimmune haemolytic anaemia, followed by immune thrombocytopenia and only rarely pure red blood cell aplasia or autoimmune granulocytopenia. Initial treatment is as for the idiopathic autoimmune cytopenias, with most patients responding to conventional corticosteroid therapy. Patients, who do not respond to conventional therapy after 4-6 weeks, should be considered for alternative immunosuppression, monoclonal antibody therapy or splenectomy. While randomized trials demonstrating the benefit of rituximab in CLL-related autoimmune diseases are still lacking, there are considerable data in the literature that provide evidence for its effectiveness. The monoclonal antibody alemtuzumab also displays considerable activity against both the malignant disease and the autoimmune complication in patients with CLL, although at the expense of greater toxicity. A number of new monoclonal antibodies, such as ofatumumab, GA-101, lumiliximab, TRU-016, epratuzumab, and galiximab, are currently investigated in CLL and their activity in CLL-related autoimmune cytopenias should be evaluated in future studies.
Mediterranean Journal of Hematology and Infectious Diseases 01/2013; 5(1):e2013027.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: POEMS syndrome is a rare paraneoplastic condition associated to an underlying plasmacellular dyscrasia. The pathogenesis of POEMS is poorly understood, but overproduction of VEGF, probably secreted by clonal plasma cells, is thought to be responsible for the signs and symptoms of the syndrome, and it seems to be useful for the monitoring of the response to therapy. At present, an effective therapeutic option for the patients is represented by autologous peripheral blood stem-cell transplantation (aPBSCT), although relapses have been described, and there is an important morbidity associated with this procedure. Before the implementation of aPBSCT, the clinical course of POEMS syndrome was characterized by progressive polyneuropathy potentially leading to death for respiratory failure. Given the high serum and plasma levels of VEGF observed in POEMS patients, the use of anti-angiogenetic drugs such as thalidomide and lenalidomide and other drugs with anti-VEGF and anti-TNF effect such as bortezomib have been considered to treat this syndrome. There are evidences of lenalidomide benefit in both front-line and previously treated patients, but scanty data are available about its use for relapse after aPBSCT. Here, we report the successful use of lenalidomide in a patient who relapsed after aPBSCT.
American Journal of Hematology 03/2012; 87(6):641-2. · 3.48 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Regulatory T-cells (Tregs) constitute a small subset of cells that are actively involved in maintaining self-tolerance, in immune homeostasis and in antitumor immunity. They are thought to play a significant role in the progression of cancer and are generally increased in patient with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Their number correlates with more aggressive disease status and is predictive of the time to treatment, as well. Moreover, it is now clear that dysregulation in Tregs cell frequency and/or function may result in a plethora of autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes mellitus, myasthenia gravis, systemic lupus erythematosus, autoimmune lymphoproliferative disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriasis. Efforts are made aiming to develop approaches to deplete Tregs or inhibit their function in cancer and autoimmune disorders, as well.
Mediterranean Journal of Hematology and Infectious Diseases 01/2012; 4(1):e2012053.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Regulatory T-cells (Tregs) constitute a small subset of cells that are actively involved in maintaining self-tolerance, in immune homeostasis and in antitumor immunity. They are thought to play a significant role in the progression of cancer and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Their number correlates with more aggressive disease status and is predictive of the time to treatment, as well. Moreover, it is now clear that dysregulation in Tregs cell frequency and/or function may result in a plethora of autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes mellitus, myasthenia gravis, systemic lupus erythematosus, autoimmune lymphoproliferative disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriasis. Effor aiming to develop approaches to deplete Tregs or inhibit their function in cancer and autoimmune disorders, as well.
Mediterranean Journal of Hematology and Infectious Diseases 01/2012; 4.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Over the last few years, several new agents have been under evaluation in preclinical studies and clinical trials, showing promise in treating chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Among these agents, monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) such as rituximab and alemtuzumab have changed the natural course of the disease. Nowadays there are several new promising monoclonal antibodies under investigation against the CD20, CD23, CD37 and CD40 molecules. Application of newer monoclonal antibodies represents an area of ongoing clinical research in CLL.
Mini Reviews in Medicinal Chemistry 06/2011; 11(6):508-18. · 3.19 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is present in the malignant Hodgkin/Reed-Sternberg (HRS) cells of 20% to 40% cases of Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) in Western countries. We were interested in the detection and quantification of cell-free plasma EBV-DNA as an indicator of biological and clinical characteristics in EBV-associated HL.
EBV was detected in peripheral blood compartments (whole blood, plasma, and mononuclear cells) at diagnosis by real-time PCR for the EBNA (EB nuclear antigen) region (n = 93) and in HRS cells by in situ hybridization for EBV-encoded small RNAs (EBER; n = 63). These data were correlated to histological and clinical characteristics, EBV serology, circulating cell-free DNA, and interleukin (IL)-6 levels.
Detection of EBV-DNA in plasma had a high specificity (90%), but a relatively low sensitivity (65%) to predict for EBV association. The viral load was higher in patients with advanced stage disease, older age in the presence of B-symptoms, and international prognostic score more than 2. The presence of EBV in HRS cells and higher plasma EBV-DNA copy numbers correlated to an increased frequency of tumor-infiltrating CD68+ macrophages in lymph node biopsies. Plasma EBV-DNA load correlated to circulating cell-free DNA and IL-6 levels, and inversely correlated to lymphocyte counts and EBNA1 antibody titers.
Although the presence of EBV-DNA in peripheral blood cannot be regarded as a surrogate marker for EBER, the plasma EBV-DNA load at HL diagnosis is an indicator of disease activity and biological characteristics associated with negative prognosis. Moreover, the inverse correlation to EBNA1 antibody titers and lymphocyte counts may indicate a reduction in immunosurveillance, favoring the expansion of EBV-HRS cells in HL.
Clinical Cancer Research 05/2011; 17(9):2885-92. · 8.19 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cytokines play a pivotal role in Hodgkin's lymphoma (HL). Because interleukin-6 (IL-6) induces expression of hepcidin, one of the principal regulators of iron metabolism, we studied the contribution of hepcidin in anemia in HL at diagnosis.
Plasma samples from 65 patients with HL were analyzed for hepcidin levels using a combination of weak cation exchange chromatography and time-of-flight mass spectrometry; cytokine levels were analyzed using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays and parameters of iron metabolism and acute-phase reaction.
Hepcidin plasma levels were significantly higher in HL patients when compared with controls, independent of the presence of anemia (P = .001). In the subset of patients with anemia, hepcidin levels inversely correlated with hemoglobin levels (P = .01). Analyzing parameters of iron metabolism, hepcidin levels showed a positive correlation with ferritin (P < .001) and an inverse correlation to iron and iron-binding capacity. Hepcidin strongly correlated to IL-6 levels (P < .001) but not to IL-10 or thymus and activation-regulated cytokine (TARC)/chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 17 (CCL17) levels. In a multivariate regression analysis, IL-6 and fibrinogen levels were independently associated with hepcidin. Higher hepcidin levels were observed in patients with more aggressive disease characteristics: stage IV disease (P = .01), presence of B symptoms (P = .03), and International Prognostic Score > 2 (P = .005).
Our findings suggest that in HL, hepcidin is upregulated by IL-6. Elevated hepcidin levels result in iron restriction and signs of anemia of chronic inflammation, although hepcidin-independent mechanisms contribute to development of anemia in HL.
Journal of Clinical Oncology 05/2010; · 17.88 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Levels of cell-free circulating DNA have been correlated to clinical characteristics and prognosis in patients with cancers of epithelial origin, while there are no data on patients with B-lymphoproliferative diseases.
Cell-free DNA levels in the plasma samples of 142 patients with lymphomas [45 with Hodgkin's lymphoma (HL), 63 with diffuse large B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (DLBCL), 24 with follicular, and 10 with mantle cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL)] at diagnosis and of 41 healthy individuals were determined using a quantitative PCR for the beta-globin gene.
Levels of circulating DNA in patients with HL, DLBCL, and mantle cell NHL were significantly higher than in controls (P < 0.01 for all). Increased levels of plasma DNA were associated with advanced stage disease, presence of B-symptoms, elevated lactate dehydrogenase levels, and age >60 years (P = 0.009; <0.0001; <0.0001; 0.04, respectively). In HL, histological signs of necrosis and grade 2 type of nodular sclerosis were associated with increased plasma DNA. Elevated plasma DNA levels were associated with an inferior failure-free survival in patients with HL (P = 0.01) and DLBCL (P = 0.03).
Quantification of circulating DNA by real-time PCR at diagnosis can identify patients with elevated levels that are associated with disease characteristics indicating aggressive disease and poor prognosis.
Annals of Oncology 05/2009; 20(8):1408-13. · 6.58 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We studied plasma levels of IL-10 and five single nucleotide polymorphisms in the interleukin-10 (IL-10) gene promoter in patients with Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) to address potential genotype-phenotype correlations. Patients with elevated IL-10 levels were more likely to have advanced stage disease and inferior event-free survival. Homozygous carriers of the variant alleles at position -592 (AA) and -1082 (GG) of the IL-10 promoter had higher IL-10 plasma levels, independent of male gender and advanced stage of disease which also determined increased IL-10 production. This analysis indicates that the genetic background can modulate plasma levels of IL-10, and ultimately prognosis in HL.
Leukemia research 03/2009; 33(10):1352-6. · 2.36 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In Hodgkin's lymphoma (HL), the production of cytokines by Reed-Sternberg cells and the surrounding tissue is thought to contribute to the biology of the disease. Cytokine expression can be altered by common single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the 5'-promoter regions.
We studied polymorphic allele variants of the cytokine genes interleukin (IL)-10 (T-3575A, G-2849A, C-2763A, A-1082G and C-592A), IL-6 (G-174C) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (C-863A and G-308A) in 184 patients with HL, and analyzed for associations with treatment outcome.
Carriers of the IL-10-592AA and the IL-6-174GG genotypes had a significantly lower probability of freedom from treatment failure (FFTF) with adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) for failure of 2.92 [95% CI (confidence interval) 1.58-5.41, P = 0.001] and of 1.75 (95% CI 1.04-2.92, P = 0.03), respectively. Reconstructing haplotypes from the five SNPs in the IL-10 promoter revealed that homozygous carriers of the IL-10.4 haplotype (T-G-C-A-A) had a worse FFTF (HR, 2.35; 95% CI 1.2-4.6, P = 0.01). In the Cox multivariate analysis, the IL-10-592AA, the IL-6-174GG genotypes and stage were independent prognostic factors.
Our study indicates that cytokine genotypes predict clinical outcome in patients with HL and points to the importance of the genetic background of the host for treatment response.
Annals of Oncology 09/2007; 18(8):1376-81. · 6.58 Impact Factor