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CD8+ T-cell exhaustion induced by leukemic cells drives progression in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

In order to shed light on mechanisms that lead to CLL progression, we investigated longitudinal changes in both the genetic and immunological landscapes. For that, we analyzed paired samples obtained from CLL patients at diagnosis and progression before front-line treatment or at diagnosis and long-term asymptomatic follow-up. By whole-exome sequencing (WES), we found that CLL cells displayed limited genetic evolution at progression. Conversely, T cells from progressing patients showed significant immunophenotypical and transcriptional changes over time not observed in patients that did not progress. Specifically, we found that CD8+ T cells at progression were characterized by an increasing terminally exhausted effector phenotype (T-betdim/- Eomeshi PD1hi) with high co-expression of inhibitory receptors (PD1, CD244 and CD160). This exhausted status in CD8+ T cells was induced by progressing leukemic cells mainly through a mechanism dependent on soluble factors, including IL-10. Thus, we demonstrate that immunological changes are of paramount importance for CLL clinical progression, thereby providing a rationale for the use of early immunotherapeutic intervention in this disease.

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Dataset ID Description Technology Samples
EGAD00001005748 Illumina HiSeq 2500 36
Publications Citations
Immunological and genetic kinetics from diagnosis to clinical progression in chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
Biomark Res 9: 2021 37