Background: Patients with B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (B-CLL) have hetero-geneous clinical courses, thus several biological parameters need to be added to the cur-rent clinical staging systems to predict disease outcome. Recent immunophenotypic stud-ies performed mainly in Western populations have demonstrated the prognostic value of CD38 and ZAP-70 expression in B-CLL.
Objectives: To investigate the expression pat-tern of a variety of membrane antigens on leukemic cells from Iranian patients with CLL and to find out if there are any differences in the expression of these markers between in-dolent and progressive groups.
Methods: In the present study, peripheral blood samples from 87 Iranian patients with B-CLL were analysed by flow cytometry.
Results: In all cases, the neoplastic cells displayed B-CLL phenotype (CD5+/CD19+/sIg+). The vast ma-jority of the cases expressed CD23, but failed to stain for CD3 or CD14. The leukemic cells of most patients expressed CD27 (84/87, 95.4%) and CD45RO (74/87, 83.9%) molecules, suggesting a memory B-cell phenotype. Comparison between the indolent (n=42) and progressive (n=37) patients revealed significantly higher frequency and inten-sity of CD38 expression in progressive group (40.5%) compared to indolent (11.9%) pa-tients (p<0.05). None of the other membrane antigens were differentially expressed in these two groups of patients.
Conclusion: Our results obtained in an Asian ethnic popula-tion confirm and extend previous findings obtained from Western populations regarding the association of CD38 expression and disease progression in B-CLL.