Germline predisposition in the context of acute myeloid leukaemia: A single-centre descriptive study of current practice and review of the literature

BJH - volume 15, issue 4, june 2022

S. Le Roy MD, R. de Putter MD, L. Vandepitte PharmD, K. Vandepoele PhD, K. Claes BM, PhD, T. Kerre MD, PhD, I. Moors MD


The awareness of potential germline predisposition in patients with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) has increased in the years since NGS testing with large gene panels became standard of care. Yet, it must be noted that still little is known regarding incidences in the Belgian population and specific guidelines for clinical practice are lacking. This narrative review attempts to provide an overview of the most common germline variants in the context of AML, optimal diagnostic approaches, and the impact on the patient and family. In a retrospective study of a cohort of 241 AML-patients, we describe the current situation at Ghent University Hospital. Using the available NGS panels, we identified twelve patients with germline pathogenic variants: 5.0% of the total cohort, 34.3% of the patients that were referred for germline testing. It must be realized that the NGS panels expanded during the study period, and probably will expand further in the future: the amount of germline pathogenic variants will likely be higher. This demonstrates the importance of awareness for underlying germline predisposition, and the implications for the patient, their family, as well as during donor search in case of allogenic stem cell transplantation.

(BELG J HEMATOL 2024;15(4):135–46)

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VEXAS-syndrome: A state of the art

BJH - volume 14, issue 6, october 2023

G. Stevens MD, R. Callens MD, M. Hofmans MD, PhD, T. Kerre MD, PhD


VEXAS (Vacuoles, E1 enzyme, X-linked, Autoinflammatory, Somatic) syndrome is an acquired, late-onset disorder, almost exclusively described in male patients. This new clinical entity is associated with autoinflammation and haematological abnormalities, such as Myelodysplastic Syndrome, Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance (MGUS) and Multiple Myeloma (MM). Common laboratory abnormalities are chronic inflammation, macrocytic anaemia, thrombocytopenia and lymphopenia. The diagnosis is genotype-based by the identification of myeloid-restricted somatic mutations in the UBA1 gene, exclusively found on the X-chromosome. A bone marrow aspirate and trephine biopsy are crucial in the diagnostic work-up, demonstrating the typical finding of vacuoles. Clear scientific support comparing different treatment strategies in VEXAS syndrome is still lacking. Currently, corticosteroid treatment remains the cornerstone in the control of inflammatory flare-ups. Corticosteroid-sparing regimens such as methotrexate, tumour necrosis factor inhibitors, anti-interleukine-6, and anti-interleukine-1 agents have only been able to demonstrate a short-term response. While an allogeneic haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-HSCT) seems to be the only long-lasting curative treatment to eradicate the causing pathogenic UBA1 clones, ideal candidate selection and timing for allo-HSCT remain unclear. Recently, some case reports have demonstrated promising results when integrating the use of hypomethylating agents or ruxolitinib in the treatment of patients with VEXAS syndrome. As VEXAS syndrome remains a fatal disease with a mean 5-year mortality of up to 40%, clinicians should be aware of its existence, clinical work-up and possible treatment strategies.

(BELG J HEMATOL 2023;14(6):236–44)

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Venetoclax-Azacitidine, the new standard of care for AML patients unfit for intensive treatment: A guide for clinical practice

BJH - volume 14, issue 2, march 2023

I. Moors MD, D. Deeren MD, C. Jacquy MD, PhD, A. Jaspers MD, PhD, T. Kerre MD, PhD, V. Havelange MD, PhD, D. Selleslag MD, C. Spilleboudt MD, N. Straetmans MD, PhD, F. Van Obbergh MD, A. De Voeght MD, S. Anguille MD, PhD, A. Schauwvlieghe MD, PhD, N. De Beule MD, PhD, A. De Becker MD, D. Breems MD, PhD


Acute myeloid leukaemia is an aggressive form of bone marrow cancer with poor prognosis, especially in elderly, unfit patients. The VIALE-A study showed an impressive improvement in complete remission rate and overall survival with the addition of venetoclax, a BCL-2 inhibitor, to azacitidine. This combination therapy is now reimbursed in Belgium for newly diagnosed adult AML patients who are considered unfit for intensive chemotherapy based on age and/or comorbidities. In this article, we provide recommendations on the use of this new combination, as well as on prophylaxis and management of specific side effects.

(BELG J HEMATOL 2023;14(2):59–66)

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TCR-based T cell immunotherapy for AML: Multidimensional aids in optimising treatment and patient identification

BJH - volume 13, issue 4, june 2022

S. Bonte PhD, T. Kerre MD, PhD


Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) has a dismal outcome, as demonstrated by a 5-year overall survival rate of only 26%. Although a complete remission can be achieved in approximately 50% of the patients with classical chemotherapy, the chances of relapse are high. Current treatment options for relapsed or refractory AML only offer a bridge to allogeneic haematopoietic stem cell transplantation since no other curative option exists. In primary refractory patients, and patients at high risk for relapse, harnessing the power of the immune system with immunotherapy might provide a new treatment option. In this dissertation, we approached AML immunotherapy from two sides: the optimisation of TCR-based immunotherapy for AML, and of the identification of patients eligible for this type of treatment.

(BELG J HEMATOL 2022;13(4):165–7)

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A multicentric observational study on the management of hyperleukocytic acute myeloid leukaemia in Belgium

BJH - volume 11, issue 7, november 2020

S. Kennes MD, I. Moors MD, dr. A. Delie MD, S. Anguille MD, PhD, D. Breems MD, PhD, D. Selleslag MD, T. Kerre MD, PhD



In hyperleukocytic acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) the risk of leukostasis is high due to the rapid increase in WBC count and the size of the myeloid blasts. It is associated with poor prognosis due to an increased risk of early death and relapse. Immediate initiation of cytoreductive treatment is essential to improve outcome, but evidence to prefer hydroxyurea, leukapheresis, intensive chemotherapy (IC) or a combination treatment, is lacking. Therefore, we decided to investigate the current approach of hyperleukocytic AML in Belgium.


A brief questionnaire on the management of hyperleukocytic AML was sent to all Belgian centres currently treating AML with IC and was replied by ten centres. Four centres agreed to a more detailed retrospective analysis. All newly diagnosed AML patients presenting with hyperleukocytosis between January 2013 and April 2019 were included. Patient and disease characteristics were collected, as well as treatment choice and outcome parameters.


We included 121 patients with a median WBC count of 116,360/µL. Mortality at day 21 was 20% and overall mortality was 64% at a median follow-up of six months. Twenty percent received leukapheresis, which was started within 24 hours. There was no difference in age distribution, treatment intensity or time to start IC between patients receiving leukapheresis or not. Although the leukapheresis group had a more severe presentation with a higher median WBC and blast count and a worse performance status, there was no difference in response to therapy, early or long-term mortality. In a multivariate analysis, age at diagnosis and treatment modality (IC vs non-IC) were the only independent parameters that significantly affected early death.


Evidence on optimal treatment options in hyperleukocytic AML is lacking. We could not demonstrate any added value of leukapheresis. To improve the prognosis of this dramatic presentation, national or even European databases should be used to document and learn from the outcome of current practice.

(BELG J HEMATOL 2020;11(7):325-34)

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Acute graft-versus-host disease: diagnosis, pathophysiology and prevention

BJH - volume 11, issue 4, june 2020

B. Vandenhove PhD student, L. Canti PhD student, H. Schoemans MD, PhD, Y. Beguin MD, PhD, prof. F. Baron , E. Willems MD, PhD, C. Graux MD, PhD, T. Kerre MD, PhD, S. Servais MD, PhD


Acute graft-versus-host disease (aGVHD) remains a severe complication after allogeneic stem cell transplantation (alloHCT). It is a disregulated immune process, during which the immune cells of the donor attack the healthy tissues in the immunocompromised host. Over the past two decades, progress in understanding its pathophysiology have helped redefine aGVHD reactions and clinical presentations. Typically, the disease presents with serious inflammatory lesions mainly in the skin, gut and liver. Its severity is assessed by gathering clinical signs and dysfunctions of each organ. Despite standard prophylaxis regimens, aGVHD still occurs in approximately 30–60% of transplanted patients and remains a major cause of transplant-related morbidity and mortality. Hence, there is an urgent need for optimising preventive strategies. In this review, we give insights on how to make an accurate diagnosis and scoring assessment of aGVHD, propose a short overview of the current knowledge about its immunobiology and discuss the current and developing strategies for prevention.

(BELG J HEMATOL 2020;11(4):159–173)

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Big Children or Small Adults? Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) Treatment in Adolescence and Young Adulthood

BJH - volume 11, issue 3, may 2020

K. Maes MD, B. De Moerloose MD, PhD, M. Quaghebeur , J. De Munter , T. Kerre MD, PhD, I. Moors MD


Adolescents and young adults (AYAs), aged 15 to 39 years, with newly diagnosed acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) differ from both younger and older patients in terms of patient-specific as well as disease-specific factors. The improvement in outcome over time for this group is noticeably less than for their younger and older counterparts. Reasons for this are thought to be lack of standardisation of therapy, being treated with either adult or paediatric regimens, low trial participation and specific psychosocial factors. In this article, we review the distinct characteristics of AYA AML in order to address this issue and conclude that an AYA-specific approach and research are warranted to overcome stagnating outcome results.

(BELG J HEMATOL 2020;11(3):98–101)

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