Despite the availability of novel targeted agents, TP53 defects remain the most important adverse prognostic factor in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Detection of deletion of TP53 locus (17p deletion) by fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) has become standard and performed prior to every line of treatment as the incidence dramatically increases as relapses occur. As monoallelic mutations of TP53 equally affect outcome, novel methods are being developed to improve detection of TP53 defects and include next-generation sequencing (NGS) and functional assays. TP53 defects highly affect outcome of immunochemotherapy but also alter response durations of tyrosine kinase inhibitors. Although BCR-targeting agents and Bcl-2-inhibitos have achieved durable responses in some patients with TP53 defects, long-term follow-up is currently lacking. In this review biological and clinical consequences of TP53 dysfunction as well as applicability of currently available methods to detect TP53 defects are described. In addition, proposed novel therapeutic strategies specifically for patients with TP53 dysfunction are discussed. In summary, the only curative treatment option for TP53-defective CLL is still allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Other treatment strategies such as rationale combinations of agents with different (TP53 independent) targets, including kinase inhibitors and inhibitors of anti-apoptotic molecules but also immunomodulatory agents need to be further explored.
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