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Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDSs) are a group of hematopoietic disorders affecting the myeloid lineage, characterized by cytopenias and clonal evolution to acute myeloid leukemia (AML). We hypothesized that natural killer (NK) cells and their activating killer immunoglobulin-like receptors (aKIRs) influence the immune surveillance and clinical outcome of patients with MDSs. Here, we first examined the distribution of aKIR genes and haplotype in 2 independent cohorts of MDS and AML patients. The median number of aKIR genes was lower in MDS patients than healthy controls (2 vs 3 genes; P = .001), and lower in patients with secondary AML (progressed from MDSs) compared with de novo AML patients (2 vs 3; P = .008) and healthy controls (2 vs 3; P = .006). In a multivariate analysis, the presence of KIR haplotype A (characterized by low aKIR content 0-1) independently predicted a higher risk of conversion to AML (relative risk [RR] with 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.67 [1.13-6.71]; P = .02) and worse adjusted progression-free survival (RR with 95% CI, 2.96 [1.59-5.52]; P = .001) and overall survival (2.25 [1.17-4.31]; P = .02), compared with KIR haplotype B (multiple aKIR genes). These novel findings may help to identify MDS patients with a high risk of disease progression who would likely benefit from adoptive NK-cell therapy.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





2819 - 2823


Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Cell Transformation, Neoplastic, Disease Progression, Female, Gene Dosage, Haplotypes, Humans, Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute, Male, Middle Aged, Myelodysplastic Syndromes, Prognosis, Receptors, KIR, Treatment Outcome, Young Adult