Among malignant diseases, CLL and its therapy are associated with the widest variety of deficiencies in host defense mechanisms (Table 2). Defects have been identified in neutrophil number and function, humoral immunity, and cellular immunity (3). The complex interaction of the various cellular and humoral components is incompletely understood, and the relative importance of each in predisposing to infectious complications is often uncertain. Also, some studies of specific host defense deficiencies have been conducted in treated and untreated CLL patients, so it is not always clear whether the deficiency is caused by the disease process or is a consequence of its therapy.
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