Clinical and Immunological Studies in Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia

Abstract: Chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) is characterised by the constitutively active tyrosine kinase BCR-ABL. Standard treatment with tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI) in the chronic phase (CP) of CML conveys excellent long-term prognosis but is associated with side effects and costs. Treatment free remission (TFR) is possible in a proportion of patients discontinuing treatment after obtaining deep treatment responses but it is not fully known how to select the right patients for stopping attempts. Treatment of accelerated phase (AP) and blast crisis (BC) is more complicated and the prognosis more dismal. In this thesis, we have studied factors of importance for outcome in CML patients with focus on immunological factors and clinical management.In a cohort of 32 newly diagnosed CP-CML patients, evidence of active immune escape mechanisms were found. These declined with the course of TKI treatment and at the same time, effector lymphocyte responses were elicited. These anti-leukaemia immune responses might help in the long-term control of CML. Multiple plasma protein markers were also measured with three multiplex platforms in a smaller cohort of patients (n=14). Inflammatory cytokines and other plasma proteins were affected by TKI treatment and multiplexing seems useful for finding potential biomarkers with biologic or prognostic significance in CML.Patients progressing to AP/BC were studied in a population-based material from the Swedish CML register. Approximately 4% of TKI-treated CP-CML patients transformed to AP/BC within 2 years of diagnosis. Monitoring of treatment responses was suboptimal in 1/3 of these patients and the median survival was 1.4 years after diagnosis of AP/BC. Thus, minimising the risk of disease progression through strict adherence to guidelines for monitoring and treatment is essential.In a cohort of patients (n=50) discontinuing TKI treatment within a large European trial, musculoskeletal pain was reported by 30% of patients, starting within 1- 6 weeks of TKI discontinuation and spontaneously resolving over time in most cases. Patients (n=56) were also evaluated with a multiplex platform with a total of 162 inflammation- and cancer-related plasma proteins. No predictive protein biomarkers for successful TKI discontinuation could be found. However, profound effects of TKI-treatment were seen and plasma proteomics could be useful for understanding effects of long-term TKI-treatment.