Selective depletion of a minor subpopulation of B-chronic lymphocytic leukemia cells is followed by a delayed but progressive loss of bulk tumor cells and disease regression

Mol Cancer. 2009 Nov 18;8:106. doi: 10.1186/1476-4598-8-106.


Cancer precursor/progenitor cells may initiate and sustain the growth of tumors, but evidence for their existence in human disease is indirect, relying on their in vitro properties and animal models. More directly, specific elimination of these rare cells from cancer patients should produce a delayed but progressive disappearance of differentiated malignant progeny. Here, we describe selective eradication of a putative precursor population in a patient with B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia, followed 6 months later by a progressive loss of mature tumor cells without further treatment. This outcome supports the presence of a rare population of precursor/progenitor cells in human malignancies, and suggests benefit from their removal.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antigens, CD19 / immunology
  • CD5 Antigens / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunity / immunology
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / immunology*
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / pathology*
  • Lymphocyte Count
  • Lymphocyte Depletion / methods*
  • Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology*
  • Lymphocyte Subsets / pathology*
  • Male
  • Phenotype
  • Remission Induction


  • Antigens, CD19
  • CD5 Antigens