p53 expression in B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia: A marker of disease progression and poor prognosis

Iole Cordone, Serena Masi, Francesca Romana Mauro, Silvia Soddu, Ornella Morsilli, Tiziana Valentini, Maria Luce Vegna, Cesare Guglielmi, Francesca Mancini, Sonia Giuliacci, Ada Sacchi, Franco Mandelli, Robert Foa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We have analyzed by immunocytochemistry (ICC) the frequency of p53 protein expression in 181 cases of B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) followed at a single institution to assess the relationship between p53 and the clinical and morphological features of the disease, as well as the possible involvement of this protein in the pathogenesis of the more aggressive forms of CLL. The overall frequency of p53 protein positivity in CLL was 15% (27 of 181 cases). There were no significant differences in age, sex, absolute lymphocyte count, or lymphocyte doubling time between p53- positive and -negative patients. By contrast, p53-positive patients had a significantly higher percentage of prolymphocytes (P = .002) and a significantly lower percentage of residual CD3-positive T lymphocytes (P = .0001). No correlation was found between the percentage of p53-positive cells and the percentage of cells in cycle assessed by the monoclonal antibody Ki- 67. When the percentage of p53 positivity was correlated with the clinical stage of the disease, the proportion of p53-positive cases increased significantly from Binet's stage A (8 of 108; 7.4%), to stage B (12 of 49; 24.4%) and C (7 of 24; 29.2%) (P = .002). p53 positivity correlated also with the phase of the disease, showing a low expression at diagnosis (8 of 112; 7.1%) and a significantly higher expression in patients studied during the course of the disease (7 of 35; 20%) and, to a further extent, with disease progression (12 of 34; 35.3%) (P = .0001). The association of p53 protein expression with mutations in the gene was confirmed by direct sequence of the entire cDNA in 15 of the 17 ICC positive cases tested (88%). A significantly shorter treatment-free interval from diagnosis (P = .003) and a poorer response to therapy (P = .007) was observed in p53-positive compared with p53-negative patients. Overall survival from the time of diagnosis, as well as from the time of p53 protein analysis, was significantly shorter in patients with p53 protein expression (P = .03 and .0001, respectively). Moreover, in multivariate analysis, p53 expression and stage C were independently associated with a short survival. The results of this study indicate that in CLL the expression of the p53 protein, analyzed by a simple and reliable immunocytochemical method, is strongly associated with p53 gene mutations, a morphological variant (CLL with > 10% prolymphocytes), advanced clinical stage, progressive disease, poor response to therapy, and short survival.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4342-4349
Number of pages8
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology


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