Blood 2015 Sep 3;126(12):1407-14. Epub 2015 Aug 3.
University Hospital Düsseldorf, Heinrich-Heine-Universität, Düsseldorf, Germany;
Bcl-2/IgH rearrangements can be quantified in follicular lymphoma (FL) from peripheral blood (PB) by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The prognostic value of Bcl-2/IgH levels in FL remains controversial. We therefore prospectively studied PB Bcl-2/IgH levels from 173 first-line FL patients who were consecutively enrolled, randomized, and treated within the multicenter phase 3 clinical trial NHL1-2003 comparing bendamustine-rituximab (B-R) with rituximab, cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, prednisone. From April 2005 to August 2008, 783 pre- and posttreatment PB samples were quantified by quantitative PCR. At inclusion, 114 patients (66%) tested positive and 59 (34%) were negative for Bcl-2/IgH. High pretreatment Bcl-2/IgH levels had an adverse effect on progression-free survival (PFS) compared with intermediate or low levels (high vs intermediate: hazard [HR], 4.28; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.70-10.77; P = .002; high vs low: HR, 3.02; 95% CI, 1.55-5.86; P = .001). No PFS difference between treatment arms was observed in Bcl-2/IgH-positive patients. A positive posttreatment Bcl-2/IgH status was associated with shorter PFS (8.7 months vs not reached; HR, 3.15; 95% CI, 1.51-6.58; P = .002). By multivariate analysis, the pretreatment Bcl-2/IgH level was the strongest predictor for PFS. Our data suggest that pre- and posttreatment Bcl-2/IgH levels from PB have significant prognostic value for PFS in FL patients receiving first-line immunochemotherapy. This trial was registered at www.clinicaltrials.gov as #NCT00991211 and at the German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices as #BfArM-4021335.