Mutations in BTK and PLCG2 have been reported to occur in ~80% of CLL patients (pts) who have progression of disease on ibrutinib therapy (Woyach, JCO 2017; Ahn, Blood 2017). These mutations are described as appearing months before actual relapse and thus considered as a potential predictive biomarker for future relapse (Quinquenel, Blood 2019). However, the outcomes of these pts after disease progression are not well described. In this study, we seek to investigate time to next therapy and overall survival (OS) following progression among CLL pts on ibrutinib therapy with and without these resistance mutations.


Between 10/2012 and 6/2019, we identified 34 pts in the Mayo Clinic clinical CLL resource who progressed while receiving ibrutinib therapy and also had testing for BTK and PLCG2 mutation performed as part of routine clinical practice at either NeoGenomics Laboratories or The Ohio State University. OS was calculated from time of ibrutinib progression to last known alive or death date; OS was plotted using Kaplan Meier methods and was compared using the log-rank test between various groups (e.g., mutation positive vs negative; CLL progression vs Richter's). Cumulative incidence of time to next treatment in those who had a treatment after progression was adjusted for the competing risk of death.


Of 34 pts who progressed while receiving ibrutinib, 26 pts experienced CLL progression and 8 pts had Richter's transformation; baseline characteristics in Table 1A. The presence of a BTK or PLCG2 mutation was found in 20/34 (59%) pts (specific mutations in Table 1B). BTK mutation alone was present in 9 pts, 7 pts had PLCG2 mutation alone, and 4 pts had both mutations. Median time between a positive test and start of next therapy was 4 months (range 1-19 months) and did not vary between BTK vs PLCG2 mutations.

Among the 26 pts with CLL progression, 18 (69%) pts had a mutation present: BTK alone (n=8), PLCG2 alone (n=6), both (n=4). Therapy following progression on ibrutinib in these pts was as follows: venetoclax (n=16; 11 pts who continued ibrutinib in combination), idelalisib (n=4), investigational treatments (n=2), continued ibrutinib alone (n=2), dose-adjusted EPOCH-R (etoposide, prednisone, vincristine, cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, and rituximab; n=1), and unknown (n=1). Twelve of the 26 pts with CLL progression on ibrutinib, including 8 pts with a prior resistance mutation detected, had subsequent progression of disease on the aforementioned next line therapy. Treatment of these patients consisted of the following: restarted ibrutinib in addition to current treatment of venetoclax (n=5), venetoclax (n=2), pembrolizumab (n=2; 1 pt with continued ibrutinib), obinutuzumab with continued ibrutinib (n=1), gemcitabine and vinorelbine with continued ibrutinib (n=1), and no further treatment (n=1).

Among the 8 pts with Richter's transformation as the initial progression event on ibrutinib after mutation testing, 1 pt had a BTK mutation and 1 pt had a PLCG2 mutation. Treatments following progression on ibrutinib included multi-agent chemoimmunotherapy (n=3; 2 pts received rituximab, cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, prednisone [R-CHOP] with continued ibrutinib and 1 pt received doxorubicin, bleomycin, vinblastine, dacarbazine [ABVD] alone), pembrolizumab (n=3; 1 pt in combination with continued ibrutinib), venetoclax in combination with continued ibrutinib (n=1), and venetoclax and obinutuzumab (n=1).

The median time to next treatment (second line of treatment beyond ibrutinib) for the 31 pts who started another therapy following progression on ibrutinib was 16.7 months (95% CI 9.6-NE; Figure 1A) and was not significantly different for pts with or without a resistance mutation (p=0.57). Median OS for all 26 pts with CLL progression was 28.7 month and there was no difference according to presence or absence of a resistance mutation (median 28.7 months vs 18.2 months, p=0.53; Figure 1B). The 8 pts with Richter's transformation had a median OS of 7.1 months (95% CI 2.0-NE).


Approximately 60% of pts tested in this progression cohort had a BTK or PLCG2 mutation at time of or preceding progression on ibrutinib therapy. OS and time to next therapy did not differ statistically between pts with mutated vs non-mutated clones; however, caution should be applied with the conclusions given the limited sample size.


Ding:DTRM Biopharma: Research Funding; Merck: Research Funding. Kenderian:Novartis: Patents & Royalties, Research Funding; Tolero: Research Funding; Humanigen: Other: Scientific advisory board , Patents & Royalties, Research Funding; Lentigen: Research Funding; Morphosys: Research Funding; Kite/Gilead: Research Funding. Kay:MorphoSys: Other: Data Safety Monitoring Board; Infinity Pharmaceuticals: Other: DSMB; Celgene: Other: Data Safety Monitoring Board; Agios: Other: DSMB. Parikh:Ascentage Pharma: Research Funding; Genentech: Honoraria; Janssen: Research Funding; AstraZeneca: Honoraria, Research Funding; Pharmacyclics: Honoraria, Research Funding; MorphoSys: Research Funding; AbbVie: Honoraria, Research Funding; Acerta Pharma: Research Funding.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.