The challenge in classical Hodgkin Lymphoma (cHL) management is the 30-40% of refractory/relapsed cases.
The aim of this work was to determine whether NIK and BCL-2 could be useful as prognosis biomarkers in cHL. In addition, we evaluated BCL-2 as a directed-therapy in cHL cell lines using venetoclax.
We evaluated NIK and BCL-2 expression in 112 untreated cHL patients’ lymph-node biopsies by immunohistochemistry. cHL cell lines were treated with venetoclax alone or combined with vincristine or doxorubicin. Cell viability, metabolic activity and cell death were analyzed by trypan-blue exclusion method, MTS assay and FDA/IP staining respectively.
No correlation between NIK or BCL-2 expression and the majority of the clinical parameters was found. Patients with ≥60% BCL-2+ HRS-cells had a shorter disease-free survival (DFS) and overall survival (OS) (p = 0.002, p = 0.02 respectively). A decision tree analysis, in a 30 patients subgroup, showed that patients with <60% NIK+ HRS-cells but with ≥60% BCL-2+ HRS-cells had a worse outcome in terms of DFS and OS. These parameters performed better as prognosis indicators as compared to the diagnosis bone marrow status. Human cHL cell lines U-H01, KM-H2, L1236, SUPHD1, L540 showed sensitivity to venetoclax. The co-treatment effect of venetoclax and vincristine or doxorubicin on cell viability was diverse depending on the cell line evaluated.
BCL-2 should be considered as a prognosis biomarker as well as a potential new therapeutic target in cHL. We report for the first time the cytotoxic effect of venetoclax in human cHL cell lines.

Copyright © 2018. Published by Elsevier Inc.