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Molecular pathways: targeting the microenvironment in chronic lymphocytic leukemia–focus on the B-cell receptor.

ten Hacken E, Burger JA.

Clin Cancer Res. 2014 Feb 1;20(3):548-56.

Authors’ Affiliation: Department of Leukemia, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas.

 

Abstract

 

Interactions between malignant B lymphocytes and the tissue microenvironment play a major role in the pathogenesis of chroniclymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and other B-cell malignancies. The coexistence and coevolution of CLL cells with their tissue neighbors provided the basis for discovery of critical cellular and molecular drivers of the disease and identification of new therapeutic targets. Bone marrow stromal cells (BMSC), monocyte-derived nurselike cells (NLC), and T cells are key players in the CLL microenvironment, which activate and protect CLL cells within the tissues. CLL surface molecules, such as the B-cell antigen receptor (BCR), chemokine receptors, adhesion molecules, and TNF receptor superfamily members (e.g., CD40, BCMA, and BAFF-R) engage in cross-talk with respective tissue ligands. This cross-talk results in survival and expansion of the CLL clone, and protects CLL cells from conventional cytotoxic drugs. Inhibiting these pathways represents an alternative therapeutic strategy to more conventional chemoimmunotherapy. Here, we review central components of the CLL microenvironment, with a particular emphasis on BCR signaling, and we summarize the most relevant clinical advances with inhibitors that target the BCR-associated spleen tyrosine kinase/SYK (fostamatinib), Bruton’s tyrosine kinase/BTK (ibrutinib), and PI3K{Delta} (idelalisib).

©2013 AACR.

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