Blood Journal
Leading the way in experimental and clinical research in hematology

Comprehensive biomarker and genomic analysis identifies p53 status as the major determinant of response to MDM2 inhibitors in chronic lymphocytic leukemia

  1. Chris Saddler1,
  2. Peter Ouillette1,
  3. Lisa Kujawski1,
  4. Sanjeev Shangary1,
  5. Moshe Talpaz1,
  6. Mark Kaminski1,
  7. Harry Erba1,
  8. Kerby Shedden2,
  9. Shaomeng Wang1, and
  10. Sami N. Malek1
  1. 1Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Hematology and Oncology; and
  2. 2Department of Statistics, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor


Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is the most common leukemia in the Western world and remains incurable with conventional therapies. Patients with relapsed or resistant CLL have a significantly shortened lifespan. MDM2 inhibitors have been developed and may have significant potential in the treatment of CLL. Clinical development of these compounds would be aided through knowledge of molecular predictors of activity. To understand determinants of sensitivity or resistance to MDM2 inhibitor therapy in CLL, we comprehensively analyzed a large cohort of CLL patient–derived samples for response to MDM2 inhibition and correlated these responses with clinically important biomarkers. Furthermore, we employed high-density single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) arrays to analyze genomewide changes of copy number and allele status, including that of p53. The results of these studies conclusively demonstrate that p53 status is the major determinant of response to MDM2 inhibitors in CLL. Additional defects in the p53 regulatory cascade do not appear operational in this leukemia. Further, we identify a novel subgroup of patients with CLL with early progressive disease that appears particularly sensitive to MDM2 inhibitor treatment. These data provide definitive evidence for target-specific and predictive activity and a rationale to proceed with this potentially important class of compounds in the treatment of CLL.

  • Submitted September 13, 2007.
  • Accepted October 19, 2007.
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