TNF-like ligand 1A (TL1A) and its unique receptor death receptor 3 (DR3) acts as broad T-cell costimulator involved in regulatory mechanisms of adaptive immune response under physiological and pathological settings. Moreover, we have recently shown that TL1A negatively regulates B-cell proliferation. Despite increasing interest on the TL1A/DR3-axis functions, very little is known on its expression and role in leukemia. In this study, we investigated the expression and function of TL1A/DR3 axis in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). DR3 was differentially expressed in activated CLL cells and predominantly detected in patients with early clinical stage disease. Soluble TL1A has been revealed in the sera of CLL patients where higher TL1A levels were associated with early stage disease. T cells, monocytes and leukemic B cells have been identified as major sources of TL1A in CLL. The relevance of these findings has been sustained by functional data showing that exogenous TL1A reduces CLL proliferation induced by stimulation of the B cell receptor. Overall, these data document the expression of the TL1A/DR3 axis in early-stage CLL. They also identify a novel function for TL1A as a negative regulator of leukemic cell proliferation that may influence the CLL physiopathology and clinical outcome at an early-stage disease.
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