Absolute B cell counts in blood predict long-term response in follicular lymphoma patients treated with rituximab without chemotherapy


Ann Hematol. 2020 Aug 17. doi: 10.1007/s00277-020-04208-x. Online ahead of print.


Rituximab monotherapy is widely used for follicular lymphoma. However, there are no established predictors for response or response duration. We analyzed the long-term prognostic relevance of pre-treatment absolute blood counts of lymphocytes with subsets and monocytes in 265 follicular lymphoma patients, uniformly treated with rituximab without chemotherapy, in two Nordic Lymphoma Group trials. There were 265 previously untreated, stage II-IV follicular lymphoma patients with a median follow-up

of over 10 years. Absolute B cell counts ≥ median (0.09 × 109/L) were an independent predictor for shorter time to next treatment or death (multivariable analysis P = 0.010). In univariate analysis, absolute monocyte counts ≥ median (0.5 × 109/L) did not correlate with time to next treatment or death, but with inferior overall survival (P = 0.034). Absolute T cell or T cell subset counts were not predictive for outcome. High absolute B cell counts, possibly reflecting circulating lymphoma cells, have an unfavorable impact on time to next treatment or death in patients treated with rituximab without chemotherapy.