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Elevated levels of H3.1-nucleosomes in patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma could have potential as diagnostic biomarkers. The epigenetic profiles of these nucleosomes may be useful for more effective diagnosis and treatment monitoring, according to a recent study.

  • Elevated H3.1 nucleosome levels correlate with non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), distinguishing patients from healthy donors.
  • Epigenetic profiles of nucleosomes, especially histone post-translational modifications, offer valuable insights.
  • Liquid biopsies to detect circulating nucleosomes can serve as a non-invasive diagnostic and treatment monitoring tool.

Nucleosomes, the basic structural units of chromatin, are released into the bloodstream during cell death. A study published in Scientific Reports found that NHL patients have more of a particular type, the H3.1 nucleosomes, in their blood than healthy patients, which may carry specific markers that can tell us more about the tumor.

Epigenetic Markers: Potential Pivotal Factors

A novel technology was developed by the research team to identify new epigenetic biomarkers. Using this approach, called Nu.Q® Capture—mass spectrometry (MS), the research team looked closely at the markers on the circulating nucleosomes from NHL patients. They found eight markers that stood out. Certain acetylation and methylation states of histone H3 were found to be more prominent in the blood of NHL patients. These could provide insights not only into diagnosing NHL but also into how well a treatment is working.

Liquid Biopsies: The Future of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Monitoring

Traditional NHL diagnosis relies on lymph node biopsy, a procedure that can be invasive and challenging, especially when monitoring treatment response and tumor progression. Liquid biopsies present a more accessible, non-invasive alternative. This study highlights the promise of circulating nucleosomes, including their potential correlation with treatment responses. For instance, changes in H3.1 nucleosome levels, along with specific histone post-translational modifications, may provide early indicators of treatment failure or disease progression.

Clinical Relevance for Healthcare Providers

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An analysis of elevated nucleosome levels in NHL and their associated epigenetic markers can greatly assist clinicians. Overall, the study’s findings:

  • Offer a non-invasive diagnostic tool, enabling clinicians to bypass the challenges of traditional biopsies.
  • Present potential markers to monitor treatment response, allowing for timely adjustments to therapeutic strategies.
  • Emphasize the need for further research to validate these preliminary results. With further research, healthcare providers may be able to confidently apply these findings to clinical practice.


Van Den Ackerveken, P., Lobbens, A., Pamart, D., Kotronoulas, A., Rommelaere, G., Eccleston, M. E., & Herzog, M. (2023). Epigenetic profiles of elevated cell free circulating H3.1 nucleosomes as potential biomarkers for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Scientific Reports, 13(1). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-023-43520-0