Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) cells rapidly die when put in culture implying that microenvironmental signals delivered by accessory cells confer CLL cells with a growth advantage. Recent findings show that CLL cells are antigen experienced and antigen binding play a critical role in the pathogenesis of the disease. The overall aim of this thesis was to study the influence of the microenvironment and antigen binding in CLL.
In paper I, we studied the influence of the small redox-regulatory molecule thioredoxin (Trx) on CLL cell survival and proliferation. We found Trx to be highly expressed in CLL lymph nodes (LNs), secreted from stromal cells surrounding proliferating CLL cells in proliferation centers, indicating growth promoting properties. Secreted Trx was also shown to protect CLL cells from apoptosis.
In paper II, oxidized LDL was added to subset #1 CLL cells. However, in contrast to our hypothesis, we could not observe activation and proliferation of CLL cells. Instead subset #1 CLL cells were unresponsive/anergic through the B cell receptor (BcR). This anergic state could however be overcome by “wash out” of bound antigen or addition of toll-like receptor 9 stimulation in some patients.
Gene expression profiles differ between groups of CLL patients and in peripheral blood (PB) and LN compartment, due to different microenvironments. However, it is not known whether these differences also apply for DNA methylation. In paper III, we identified various genes that were alternatively methylated between IGHV mutated (M) and unmutated (UM) groups. For example prognostic genes, CLLU1 and LPL, genes involved in B cell signaling, IBTK, as well as numerous TGF-β and NF-κB/TNF pathway genes.
The intensity and duration of BcR signals are fine-tuned by enhancing or inhibitory coreceptors. SHP-1 inhibits BcR-signals by dephosphorylation. In paper IV, we compared the expression and activity of SHP-1 in CLL cells from LN with matched PB samples. However, in contrast to our hypothesis, SHP-1 activity/phosphorylation status in PB and LN, did not differ significantly.
This thesis, add another piece to the puzzle, on how the microenvironment and antigens influence CLL pathogenesis. Since great variations among individuals are seen, further studies in different groups of patients are necessary to elucidate the importance of antigen for the development of CLL.
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2016. , 83 p.
Efremov, Dimitar, Dr.