CD38 and chronic lymphocytic leukemia: A decade later

Fabio Malavasi, Silvia Deaglio, Rajendra Damle, Giovanna Cutrona, Manlio Ferrarini, Nicholas Chiorazzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This review highlights a decade of investigations into the role of CD38 in CLL. CD38 is accepted as a dependable marker of unfavorable prognosis and as an indicator of activation and proliferation of cells when tested. Leukemic clones with higher numbers of CD38 + cells are more responsive to BCR signaling and are characterized by enhanced migration. In vitro activation through CD38 drives CLL proliferation and chemotaxis via a signaling pathway that includes ZAP-70 and ERK1/2. Finally, CD38 is under a polymorphic transcriptional control after external signals. Consequently, CD38 appears to be a global molecular bridge to the environment, promoting survival/proliferation over apoptosis. Together, this evidence contributes to the current view of CLL as a chronic disease in which the host's microenvironment promotes leukemic cell growth and also controls the sequential acquisition and accumulation of genetic alterations. This view relies on the existence of a set of surface molecules, including CD38, which support proliferation and survival of B cells on their way to and after neoplastic transformation. The second decade of studies on CD38 in CLL will tell if the molecule is an effective target for antibody-mediated therapy in this currently incurable leukemia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3470-3478
Number of pages9
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - Sep 29 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Immunology


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