The IGHV4-34 gene is very frequent (~10%) in the B cell receptor immunoglobulin (BcR IG) gene repertoire of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Over 30% of IGHV4-34 CLL cases can be assigned to different subsets with stereotyped BcR IG. The largest is subset #4 which represents ~1% of all CLL and ~10% of IGHV4-34 CLL and is considered a prototype for indolent disease. The BcR IG of a great majority (~85%) of IGHV4-34 CLL cases carry a significant load of somatic hypermutation (SHM), often with distinctive SHM patterns. This holds especially true for stereotyped subsets and is suggestive of particular modes of interactions with the selecting antigen(s). In detail, subsets #4 and #16, both involving IgG-switched cases (IgG-CLL), exhibit the greatest sequence similarity in SHM profiles, whereas they differ in this respect from IgM/D subsets #29 and #201. Prompted by these observations, here we explored the extent that these subset-biased SHM profiles in different IGHV4-34 stereotyped subsets were reflected in distinct demographics, clinical presentation, genomic aberrations and outcomes. Within a multi-institutional series of 20,331 CLL patients, 1790 (8.8%) expressed IGHV4-34 BcR IG. Following established bioinformatics approaches for the identification of BcR IG stereotypy, 573/1790 IGHV4-34 CLL cases (32%) were assigned to stereotyped subsets; of these, 340 cases (19% of all IGHV4-34 CLL and 60% of stereotyped IGHV4-34 cases) belonged to subsets #4, #16, #29 and #201, all concerning IGHV-mutated CLL (M-CLL). Clinicobiological information was available for 275/340 patients: #4, n=150; #16, n=44; #29, n=39; and #201, n=42. Comparisons between subsets revealed no differences in gender and age distribution. Interestingly, however, 36-43% of each subset cases were young for CLL (defined as patients aged ≤55 years), which is higher compared to general CLL cohorts, where young patients generally account for ~25% of cases. In contrast, significant differences were identified between subsets regarding: (i) disease stage at diagnosis, with >90% of IgG subsets #4 and #16 diagnosed at Binet stage A versus 83% in subset #201 and 74% in subset #29 (p=0.029); (ii) CD38 expression, ranging from 1% in subset #4 to 10% in subset #201 (p=0.013); (iii) the distribution of del(13q), peaking at a remarkable 92% in subset #29 versus only 37% in subset #16 (p<0.0001). Regarding other genomic aberrations, they were either absent (NOTCH1 mutations) or rare (SF3B1 mutations, trisomy 12, del(11q), TP53 aberrations due to either del(17p) and/or TP53 mutations). The sole exception concerned a high frequency (14%) of TP53 aberrations in subset #29 (p<0.05 compared with the other subsets), which is notable for M-CLL cases in general. Time to first treatment (TTFT) could be analyzed in 228 cases. IgG subsets #4 and #16 had significantly (p=0.036) longer TTFT (median TTFT: not yet reached) compared to the IgM/D subsets #29 and #201 (median TTFT: 11 and 12 years, respectively). In conclusion, we have identified distinct clinicobiological profiles for different stereotyped IGHV4-34 M-CLL subsets, highlighting subsets #4 and #16 as particularly indolent, which is important for both medical and social reasons, especially considering that a significant proportion of patients in these subsets are diagnosed at younger ages. Our findings support the notion that BcR IG stereotypy refines prognostication in CLL, superseding the crude immunogenetic distinction based on SHM load only. Additionally, the observed heterogeneity suggests that not all M-CLL are equal, prompting further research into the underlying biological background with the ultimate aim of tailored patient management.

Disclosures

Tausch:Gilead: Other: Travel support. Shanafelt:Glaxo-Smith_Kline: Research Funding; Genentech: Research Funding; Celgene: Research Funding; Polyphenon E Int'l: Research Funding; Hospira: Research Funding; Janssen: Research Funding; Pharmactckucs: Research Funding; Cephalon: Research Funding. Niemann:Gilead: Consultancy; Janssen: Consultancy; Roche: Consultancy; Novartis: Other: Travel grant. Langerak:InVivoScribe: Patents & Royalties: Licensing of IP and Patent on BIOMED-2-based methods for PCR-based Clonality Diagnostics.; DAKO: Patents & Royalties: Licensing of IP and Patent on Split-Signal FISH. Royalties for Dept. of Immunology, Erasmus MC, Rotterdam, NL; Roche: Other: Lab services in the field of MRD diagnostics provided by Dept of Immunology, Erasmus MC (Rotterdam). Hallek:Celgene: Honoraria, Other: Speakers Bureau and/or Advisory Boards, Research Funding; AbbVie: Honoraria, Other: Speakers Bureau and/or Advisory Boards, Research Funding; Roche: Honoraria, Other: Speakers Bureau and/or Advisory Boards, Research Funding; Boehringher Ingelheim: Honoraria, Other: Speakers Bureau and/or Advisory Boards; Pharmacyclics: Honoraria, Other: Speakers Bureau and/or Advisory Boards, Research Funding; Mundipharma: Honoraria, Other: Speakers Bureau and/or Advisory Boards, Research Funding; Janssen: Honoraria, Other: Speakers Bureau and/or Advisory Boards, Research Funding; Gilead: Honoraria, Other: Speakers Bureau and/or Advisory Boards, Research Funding. Ghia:Janssen Pharmaceuticals: Research Funding.

Author notes

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Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.