WSU-CLL is not Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

Author | Amanda Capes-Davis, ICLAC member

WSU-CLL is a cell line that was thought to be established from chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

In 2002, it was found that WSU-CLL is actually REH, a cell line from B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Citation in PubMed | Journal Website

That makes WSU-CLL a misidentified cell line: a cell line that no longer corresponds to its original donor.

How many publications use WSU-CLL incorrectly as a model for chronic lymphocytic leukemia?  And what impact does that have?

ICLAC looked at these questions as part of a commentary, published in the journal Leukemia Research.
Citation in PubMed | Journal Website

We found 27 articles that used WSU-CLL.  Twenty-four articles referred to WSU-CLL incorrectly, as chronic lymphocytic leukemia.  Only three referred to WSU-CLL correctly, as acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

The citations from each article gave a clearer picture of the overall impact.  Citations measure the number of times that scientists have relied on an article for their own work.

The 24 articles that referred to WSU-CLL incorrectly were cited by 848 publications.  The three articles that referred to WSU-CLL correctly were cited by only 143 publications.

Does it matter?

Many of these references relate to developing treatments for chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

So yes – it matters.  Clinical trials are based on studies that use cell lines.  Any publications that use WSU-CLL will send later clinical trials off in the wrong directions.