Monoclonal B-cell lymphocytosis (MBL), a newly recognized entity found in approximately 3% of normal persons, precedes chronic lymphocytic leukemia. However, MBLs progress into overt malignancy only in a very minor portion of cases, thus raising the clinical concern of whether and how we can discriminate at diagnosis which rare cases will evolve into a fully fledgedtumor. Understanding the molecular/biologic features underlying the risk of progression may significantly modify our strategies for correctly managing B-cell premalignant states. MBL cells bear the same chromosomal abnormalities of chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Genomewide sequencing and animal models indicate that genetic abnormalities disrupting the control of cell growth and survival cooperate with microenvironmenttriggered events, mainly represented by antigen-mediated B-cell receptor and coreceptor stimulation, to trigger and fuel clonal expansion. The initial functional activation of survival/proliferation pathways may later become subsidized by autonomous genetic abnormalities (eg, a single mutation) affecting the same or parallel critical signaling pathway(s).
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology