Hematopoietic stem cell involvement in BCR-ABL1-positive ALL as potential mechanism of resistance to blinatumomab therapy
2017. 130(18): 2027-2031
The bispecific T-cell engager blinatumomab targeting CD19 can induce complete remission in relapsed or refractory B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (BCP-ALL). However, some patients ultimately relapse with loss of CD19 antigen on leukemic cells, which has been established as a novel mechanism to escape CD19-specific immunotherapies. Here, we provide evidence that CD19-negative (CD19-) relapse after CD19-directed therapy in BCP-ALL may be a result of the selection of preexisting CD19- malignant progenitor cells. We present 2 BCR-ABL1 fusion-positive BCP-ALL patients with CD19- myeloid lineage relapse after blinatumomab therapy and show BCR-ABL1 positivity in their hematopoietic stem cell (HSC)/progenitor/myeloid compartments at initial diagnosis by fluorescence in situ hybridization after cell sorting. By using the same approach with 25 additional diagnostic samples from patients with BCR-ABL1-positive BCP-ALL, we identified HSC involvement in 40% of the patients. Patients (6 of 8) with major BCR-ABL1 transcript encoding P210BCR-ABL1 mainly showed HSC involvement, whereas in most of the patients (9 of 12) with minor BCR-ABL1 transcript encoding P190BCR-ABL1, only the CD19+ leukemia compartments were BCR-ABL1 positive (P = .02). Our data are of clinical importance, because they indicate that both CD19+ cells and CD19- precursors should be targeted to avoid CD19- relapses in patients with BCR-ABL1-positive ALL.