Chronic lymphocytic leukemia patients with HLA-B27 referred for allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation do not have worse outcomes: Results of a population-based case series analysis in British Columbia, Canada

Human leukocyte antigen B27 (HLA-B27), associated with spondyloarthritis, was suggested to be protective against chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). It is hypothesized that HLA-B27 patients may have worse outcome in part related to their other comorbidities.

OBJECTIVES: 

We sought to compare the clinical characteristics and outcomes of CLL and small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL) patients referred for allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-HSCT) based on their HLA-B27 status.

METHODS: 

This retrospective population-based case series analyzed CLL/SLL patients who were HLA-typed for potential allo-HSCT in British Columbia, Canada.

RESULTS: 

of 279 CLL/SLL patients referred for potential allo-HSCT, 34 patients were HLA-B27 positive. For HLA-B27 patients, median age at CLL diagnosis was 53.5 years (range, 27-67) and 71% were male. Seven patients had 11q deletion and nine patients had 17p deletion detected prior to first CLL therapy or at relapse. Eleven HLA-B27 patients received allo-HSCT. Two patients developed acute myeloid leukemia. One patient with ankylosing spondylitis had Richter’s transformation prior to any CLL therapy. Spondyloarthritis-related disorders were diagnosed in 12 HLA-B27 patients but there was no temporal correlation with development of CLL. Overall survival (OS) and treatment-free survival (TFS) were not significantly different between HLA-B27 patients with or without spondyloarthritis-related disorders. There were no significant differences in clinical characteristics at CLL diagnosis or OS/TFS between HLA-B27 positive and negative patients referred for allo-HSCT.

CONCLUSIONS: 

HLA-B27 positivity does not appear to influence outcome for CLL/SLL patients referred for allo-HSCT. Further studies are needed to evaluate the clinical significance of HLA-B27 in a general CLL population.