Sex disparity in acute myeloid leukaemia with FLT3 internal tandem duplication mutations: implications for prognosis
Journal article, Peer reviewed
MetadataShow full item record
Original versionMolecular Oncology. 2021, 15 (9), 2285-2299. 10.1002/1878-0261.13035
Incidence, molecular presentation and outcome of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) are influenced by sex, but little attention has been directed at untangling sex-related molecular and phenotypic differences between female and male patients. While increased incidence and poor risk are generally associated with a male phenotype, the poor prognostic FLT3 internal tandem duplication (FLT3-ITD) mutation and co-mutations with NPM1 and DNMT3A are overrepresented in female AML. Here, we have investigated the relationship between sex and FLT3-ITD mutation status by comparing clinical data, mutational profiles, gene expression and ex vivo drug sensitivity in four cohorts: Beat AML, LAML-TCGA and two independent HOVON/SAKK cohorts, comprising 1755 AML patients in total. We found prevalent sex-associated molecular differences. Co-occurrence of FLT3-ITD, NPM1 and DNMT3A mutations was overrepresented in females, while males with FLT3-ITDs were characterized by additional mutations in RNA splicing and epigenetic modifier genes. We observed diverging expression of multiple leukaemia-associated genes as well as discrepant ex vivo drug responses, suggestive of discrete functional properties. Importantly, significant prognostication was observed only in female FLT3-ITD-mutated AML. Thus, we suggest optimization of FLT3-ITD mutation status as a clinical tool in a sex-adjusted manner and hypothesize that prognostication, prediction and development of therapeutic strategies in AML could be improved by including sex-specific considerations.