Greater number of CD68+ macrophages associated with shorter progression-free survival

-- Eric Metcalf

Wednesday, March 10, 2010 (Last Updated: 03/11/2010)

WEDNESDAY, March 10 (HealthDay News) -- In patients with classic Hodgkin's lymphoma, having a higher number of tumor-associated macrophages is linked to shortened survival, a finding that may assist in risk stratification, according to research published in the March 11 New England Journal of Medicine.

Christian Steidl, M.D., of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, and colleagues analyzed data from 130 samples taken during lymph-node biopsy from patients with classic Hodgkin's lymphoma. Through gene-expression profiling, the researchers found a gene signature of tumor-associated macrophages that was associated with the failure of primary treatment.

In another cohort of 166 patients, the researchers found that a higher number of CD68+ macrophages was linked to shorter progression-free survival and a greater chance of relapse following autologous hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation. An increased number of CD68+ macrophages outperformed the International Prognostic Score for disease-specific survival. Lack of an increased number of CD68+ cells in patients with limited-stage disease defined a group with a 100-percent rate of long-term disease-specific survival using current treatments.

"The data provided by Steidl et al appear to be the breakthrough we have been looking for by enabling the selection of patients with a particularly poor prognosis (regardless of stage) for aggressive treatment, which can bring more logic to the treatment of this curable cancer," write the authors of an accompanying editorial.

The study was partially supported by a grant from Roche Molecular Systems; a co-author reported financial relationships with Roche Canada and other pharmaceutical companies.

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Specialties Oncology
Internal Medicine
Family Practice

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