Ibrutinib restores immune cell numbers and function in first-line and relapsed/refractory chronic lymphocytic leukemia

Isabelle G. Solman, Lisa K. Blum, Hana Y. Hoh, Thomas J. Kipps, Jan A. Burger, Jacqueline C. Barrientos, Susan O'Brien, Stephen P. Mulligan, Neil E. Kay, Peter Hillmen, John C. Byrd, Indu D. Lal, James P. Dean, Ann Mongan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Ibrutinib positively modulates many T-cell subsets in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). To understand ibrutinib's effects on the broader landscape of immune cell populations, we comprehensively characterized changes in circulating counts of 21 immune blood cell subsets throughout the first year of treatment in patients with relapsed/refractory (R/R) CLL (n = 55, RESONATE) and previously untreated CLL (n = 50, RESONATE-2) compared with untreated age-matched healthy donors (n = 20). Ibrutinib normalized abnormal immune cell counts to levels similar to those of age-matched healthy donors. Ibrutinib significantly decreased pathologically high circulating B cells, regulatory T cells, effector/memory CD4+ and CD8+ T cells (including exhausted and chronically activated T cells), natural killer (NK) T cells, and myeloid-derived suppressor cells; preserved naive T cells and NK cells; and increased circulating classical monocytes. T-cell function was assessed in response to T-cell receptor stimulation in patients with R/R CLL (n = 21) compared with age-matched healthy donors (n = 18). Ibrutinib significantly restored T-cell proliferative ability, degranulation, and cytokine secretion. Over the same period, ofatumumab or chlorambucil did not confer the same spectrum of normalization as ibrutinib in multiple immune subsets. These results establish that ibrutinib has a significant and likely positive impact on circulating malignant and nonmalignant immune cells and restores healthy T-cell function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106432
JournalLeukemia Research
StatePublished - Oct 2020


  • Chlorambucil
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
  • Ibrutinib
  • Immune function
  • Ofatumumab

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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