Association of cardiovascular occlusive events with BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase therapy
: Identification, understanding and prediction

Student thesis: Doc typesDoctor of Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences


The identification of the BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase as the main culprit in the pathology of chronic myeloid leukemia led to the development of one of the most successful cancer therapies, imatinib, an inhibitor designed to specifically target BCR-ABL. Imatinib reduces durably the number of leukemic cells, providing a life span of patients with chronic myeloid leukemia in chronic phase close to that of the general population. However, some patients are intolerant or resistant, inducing the development of three additional BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase inhibitors (i.e. dasatinib, nilotinib and bosutinib). Ponatinib, a BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase inhibitor classified as a third generation was finally designed to overcome a bad prognosis mutation in the bcr-abl gene which provides resistance to all the other BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase inhibitors. However, during the ponatinib clinical development, numerous patients had a vascular occlusion.
The aim of this thesis is to investigate the vascular toxicity associated with BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase inhibitors in the treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia.
Through meta-analyses we highlighted that in addition to ponatinib, dasatinib and nilotinib also induce vascular toxicity, and more specifically arterial occlusion. Secondarily, through a review of the literature and in vitro experiments, we determined that these three treatments affect the vasculature differently. Ponatinib is highly toxic to endothelial cells, and this toxicity could be responsible for the arterial occlusion. Dasatinib impairs endothelial cells in a lesser extent, whereas nilotinib possesses a different vascular profile. It deregulates glucose and lipid metabolism and impacts platelet functions.
The identification of the precise mechanisms underlying tyrosine kinase inhibitor-induced arterial occlusions is a central element as it influences the management of the vascular toxicity by guiding treatment selection, vascular monitoring and anticipating the vascular toxicity. Future research should focus on the validation of predictive biomarkers of vascular toxicity.
Date of Award11 Feb 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Namur
SponsorsUniversity of Namur
SupervisorJonathan Douxfils (Supervisor), Francois Mullier (Co-Supervisor), Carlos Graux (Jury), Jean-Michel Dogne (Jury), Pierre Sonveaux (Jury), Philippe Hainaut (Jury), Giuseppe Saglio (Jury) & Violaine Havelange (Jury)


  • Tyrosine kinase inhibitors
  • chronic myeloid leukemia
  • vascular toxicity

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