Morphologic and molecular analysis of Richter syndrome in chronic lymphocytic leukaemia patients treated with ibrutinib or venetoclax

Gángó, Ambrus and Kiss, Richárd and Farkas, Péter and Hanna, Eid and Demeter, Judit and Deák, Beáta and Lévai, Dóra and Kotmayer, Lili and Alpár, Donát and Matolcsy, András and Bödör, Csaba and Mátrai, Zoltán and Tímár, Botond (2021) Morphologic and molecular analysis of Richter syndrome in chronic lymphocytic leukaemia patients treated with ibrutinib or venetoclax. PATHOLOGY. ISSN 0031-3025 (print); 1465-3931 (online) (In Press)


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Richter syndrome (RS) represents the development of high-grade lymphoma in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) or small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL) and presents a diagnostic and therapeutic challenge with an adverse prognosis. The genetic background and morphology of RS in CLL patients treated with chemoimmunotherapy is extensively characterised; however, our knowledge about RS in patients treated with targeted oral therapies should be extended. To understand the morphologic and molecular changes leading to RS in CLL patients treated with the Bruton's tyrosine kinase inhibitor, ibrutinib, and the BCL2 inhibitor, venetoclax, sequential samples from six CLL/SLL patients undergoing RS were collected in both the CLL and RS phases. A detailed immunophenotypic analysis of formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue specimens of RS phase was performed, followed by extensive molecular characterisation of CLL and RS samples, including the immunoglobulin heavy chain gene (IGH) rearrangement, TP53 mutations, drug-induced resistance mutations in BTK and BCL2 genes and various copy number changes and point mutations detectable with multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA). Rare, non-diffuse large B-cell lymphoma phenotypes of RS were observed in 3/6 cases, including plasmablastic lymphoma and a transitory entity between diffuse large B-cell lymphoma and classical Hodgkin lymphoma. The majority of cases were clonally related and harboured an unmutated variable region of the immunoglobulin heavy chain gene. Abnormalities affecting the TP53 gene occurred in all patients, and every patient carried at least one genetic abnormality conferring susceptibility to RS. In the background of RS, 2/5 patients treated with ibrutinib showed a BTK C481S resistance mutation. One patient developed a BCL2 G101V mutation leading to venetoclax resistance and RS. In conclusion, our findings contribute to better understanding of RS pathogenesis in the era of targeted oral therapies. Rare phenotypic variants of RS do occur under the treatment of ibrutinib or venetoclax, and genetic factors leading to RS are similar to those identified in patients treated with chemoimmunotherapy. To our best knowledge, we have reported the first BCL2 G101V mutation in an RS patient treated with venetoclax.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: R Medicine / orvostudomány > RB Pathology / patológia, kórtan
Depositing User: Dr Donat Alpar
Date Deposited: 17 Sep 2021 07:28
Last Modified: 17 Sep 2021 07:28

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