Leukemia-cell expression of ZAP-70, CD38, or unmutated immunoglobulin heavy chain variable region genes (U-IGHV) each is associated with aggressive disease in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). To assess the relative strength of each marker, we defined thresholds for designating a case as positive for CD38 or ZAP-70 in a test cohort of 307 patients and used these data-defined criteria to stratify patients in an independent cohort of 705 patients. Multivariate analysis revealed that ZAP-70 was the strongest risk factor. Knowledge of the IGHV mutation status or CD38 did not improve our ability to predict the time to first treatment except for ZAP-70-negative cases, which could be segregated into 2 groups of intermediate-risk or low-risk disease based on whether they expressed unmutated or mutated IGHV. ZAP-70 maintained its high relative prognostic value for the subset of patients with early-stage, asymptomatic disease, including patients evaluated within 1 year of diagnosis. Although it is premature to recommend therapy based on these risk factors, patients with ZAP-70-positive CLL cells should be monitored closely for disease progression as they have a median time from diagnosis to requiring initial therapy by standard criteria of approximately 3 years.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology