Increased programmed death-1+tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes in classical Hodgkin lymphoma substantiate reduced overall survival
Programmed death-1 (PD-1), a protein that is physiologically expressed by germinal center-associated helper T cells, has an inhibitory function on T-cell activity. The distribution of PD-1+ lymphocytes in the microenvironment of Hodgkin lymphoma is not random and can serve as a diagnostic marker. We measured the number of PD-1+ lymphocytes in Hodgkin lymphoma and correlated it with the remaining background lymphocyte populations and known biological and clinical key data on a tissue microarray platform encompassing 280 cases of classical Hodgkin lymphoma and 3 cases of nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma. Prognostic cutoff scores were determined by receiver operating curve analysis. The number of PD-1+ tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes in 189 evaluable cases was median of 27 and mean of 269 cells/mm(2), being higher in lymphocyte-rich classical Hodgkin lymphoma and lower in the mixed cellularity variant. Rimming of tumor cells by PD-1+ cells was observed in all cases of nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma but only in 1% of classical Hodgkin lymphomas, particularly in lymphocyte-rich and -mixed cellularity variants. Thus, the presence of PD-1+ rosettes around neoplastic cells is typical but not exclusive for nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma because it may be encountered in classical Hodgkin lymphoma. The PD-1+ cell amount was lower in classical Hodgkin lymphoma cases with 9p24 gains (PD-1 ligand 2 locus) and in cases with higher numbers of FOXP3+ regulatory T cells. An increased amount of PD-1+ tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes above the prognostic cutoff score (23 cells/mm(2)) was a stage-independent negative prognostic factor of overall survival as opposed to the number of FOXP3+ regulatory T cells. Along with the latter, PD-1+ cells might represent important lymphoma/host microenvironment modulators.
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