Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) cells extensively interact with and depend on their surrounding tumor microenvironment (TME). The TME encompasses a heterogeneous array of cell types, soluble signals, and extracellular vesicles, which contribute significantly to CLL pathogenesis. CLL cells and the TME cooperatively generate a chronic inflammatory milieu, which reciprocally reprograms the TME and activates a signaling network within CLL cells, promoting their survival and proliferation. Additionally, the inflammatory milieu exerts chemotactic effects, attracting CLL cells and other immune cells to the lymphoid tissues. The intricate CLL-TME interactions also facilitate immune evasion and compromise leukemic cell surveillance. We also review recent advances that have shed light on additional aspects that are substantially influenced by the CLL-TME interplay.
vom Stein AF., Hallek M., Nguyen PH. Role of the tumor microenvironment in CLL pathogenesis. Seminars in Hematology, 2023.