Shaw and co-workers1 present a study of the immunologic response of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia to bacterial infection. In their experience the absolute granulocyte counts, the polymorphonuclear response to infection, and the phagocytic function of the polymorphonuclear cells were found to be normal in these patients. However, a decreased or even absent circulating antibody response to antigenic stimulation was observed. These findings pointed to a failure of the immunologic response.
In a group of 18 patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia admitted to the Clinical Center at Bethesda, Md., 10 patients, according to Shaw, had multiple bacterial infections and five of these died. Hypogammaglobulinemia in this group appeared to be directly related to the incidence and severity of these infections. A study of the serum γ-globulin concentrations and circulating antibody production was undertaken with regard to bacterial infection.
In a later group of 42 patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia