Treatment-free remission and immunity in chronic myeloid leukemia


Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is caused by the reciprocal translocation t(9;22)(q34;q11), resulting in the BCR-ABL1 fusion gene. BCR-ABL1 tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) improve overall survival in patients with chronic phase CML (CML-CP). Approximately half of the patients who achieve a durable deep molecular response can achieve sustained treatment-free remission (TFR) after TKI discontinuation; thus TFR is now a therapeutic goal for most patients with CML-CP. Sensitive BCL-ABL1 transcript detection methods reveal that evidence of residual CML cells remains in patients who achieve sustained TFR, indicating that the host immune system protects against CML relapse. The human immune system is composed of innate and adaptive arms. Natural killer cells are major components of the innate immune system, while T cells are major components of the adaptive immune system. Myeloid-derived suppressor cells and regulatory T cells, both suppressors of the immune response, have important roles in the regulation of CML. Here, we review the current understanding of the immune response in CML, especially in TFR.

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This work was supported by research grants from JSPS KAKENHI (19K17860, HU) and Okinaka Memorial Institute for Medical Research (HU).

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Correspondence to Hiroshi Ureshino.

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Ureshino, H. Treatment-free remission and immunity in chronic myeloid leukemia. Int J Hematol (2021).

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  • Chronic myeloid leukemia
  • Treatment-free remission
  • Natural killer cells
  • T lymphocytes
  • Immune surveillance