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Plasma B-Cell Maturation Antigen Levels are Elevated and Correlate with Disease Activity in Patients with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

Abstract

Background

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is a malignancy of late B cells. In another late B-cell malignancy (multiple myeloma), levels of solubilized B-cell maturation antigen (sBCMA) are elevated and predict outcomes.

Objective

We sought to evaluate sBCMA as a possible prognostic factor and monitoring tool for patients with CLL.

Patients and Methods

Using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), we assessed plasma (p) levels of BCMA in 171 CLL patients and compared them with levels in healthy individuals.

Results

pBCMA levels were significantly higher among patients with CLL than those from healthy donors (p < 0.0001). Among patients with aggressive disease, pBCMA was elevated compared with patients with indolent disease (p < 0.001). Those with an initial pBCMA level in the highest quartile had a shorter time to first treatment compared with CLL patients with pBCMA levels in the lowest three quartiles (p < 0.0001). Among those in the highest quartile (pBCMA > 110.9 ng/mL), overall survival was shorter than those in the lowest three quartiles (p = 0.0007). Finally, among those patients who underwent serial pBCMA testing, changes in these levels correlated with changes in their clinical status.

Conclusions

Together, our findings show that pBCMA is a promising new prognostic and predictive indicator for patients with CLL.

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Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

KAU, TMS, MG, and JRB performed critical writing and review of this manuscript; SB, EW, MG, MED, JDN, AAR, JW, SV, NMH, JL, ML, ES, and HC performed research and data analysis; and TJK and LZR provided samples and critiqued the experimental setup and manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to James R. Berenson.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

Dr. James R. Berenson is a director, employee, and shareholder in OncoTracker, Inc., a company that is involved in the development of BCMA as a marker. Haiming Chen, Eric Sanchez, and Mingjie Li are shareholders in OncoTracker, Inc. Kyle A. Udd, Sean Bujarski, Eric Wirtschafter, Tanya M. Spektor, Matthew Ghermezi, Laura Z. Rassenti, Michael E. David, Jason D. Nosrati, Ashkon A. Rahbari, James Wang, Suzie Vardanyan1, Nika M. Harutyunyan, Julia Linesch and Thomas J. Kipps have no conflicts of interest to declare.

Funding

No external funding was used in the preparation of this manuscript.

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Udd, K.A., Bujarski, S., Wirtschafter, E. et al. Plasma B-Cell Maturation Antigen Levels are Elevated and Correlate with Disease Activity in Patients with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. Targ Oncol 14, 551–561 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11523-019-00666-0

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