Pediatric T-ALL patients have a worse outcome compared to BCP-ALL patients and they could benefit from new prognostic marker identification. Alteration of CRLF2 gene, a hallmark correlated with poor outcome in BCP-ALL, has not been reported in T-ALL. We analyzed CRLF2 expression in 212 T-ALL pediatric patients enrolled in AIEOP-BFM ALL2000 study in Italian and German centers. Seventeen out of 120 (14.2%) Italian patients presented CRLF2 mRNA expression 5 times higher than the median (CRLF2-high); they had a significantly inferior event-free survival (41.2%±11.9 vs. 68.9%±4.6, p=0.006) and overall survival (47.1%±12.1 vs. 73.8%±4.3, p=0.009) and an increased cumulative incidence of relapse/resistance (52.9%±12.1 vs. 26.2%±4.3, p=0.007) compared to CRLF2-low patients. The prognostic value of CRLF2 over-expression was validated in the German cohort. Of note, CRLF2 over-expression was associated with poor prognosis in the high risk (HR) subgroup where CRLF2-high patients were more frequently allocated. Interestingly, although in T-ALL CRLF2 protein was localized mainly in the cytoplasm, in CRLF2-high blasts we found a trend towards a stronger TSLP-induced pSTAT5 response, sensitive to the JAK inhibitor Ruxolitinib. In conclusion, CRLF2 over-expression is a poor prognostic marker identifying a subset of HR T-ALL patients that could benefit from alternative therapy, potentially targeting the CRLF2 pathway.
- High risk
- Pediatric leukemia
- Prognostic marker
- T acute lymphoblastic leukemia