Purpose: Transformation of follicular lymphoma is a critical event associated with a poor prognosis. The role of the tumor microenvironment in previous transformation studies has yielded conflicting results. Experimental Design: To define cell subtypes associated with transformation, we examined tissue specimens at diagnosis from patients with follicular lymphoma that later transformed and, using immunohistochemistry (IHC), stained for CD68, CD11c, CD21, CXCL13, FOXP3, PD1, and CD14. Cell content and the pattern of expression were evaluated. Those identified as significantly associated with time to transformation (TTT) and overall survival (OS) were further characterized by flow cytometry and multicolor IHC. Results: Of note, 58 patients were analyzed with median TTT of 4.7 years. The pattern of PD1+ and CD14+ cells rather than the quantity of cells was predictive of clinical outcomes. On multivariate analysis, including the follicular lymphoma international prognostic index score, CD14+ cells localized in the follicle were associated with a shorter TTT (HR, 3.0; P = 0.004).PD1+ cells with diffuse staining were associated with a shorter TTT (HR, 1.9; P = 0.045) and inferior OS (HR, 2.5; P = 0.012). Multicolor IHC and flow cytometry identified CD14+ cells as follicular dendritic cells (FDC), whereas PD1+ cells represented two separate populations, TFH and exhausted T cells. Conclusion: These results identify the presence of PD1+ T cells and CD14+ FDC as independent predictors of transformation in follicular lymphoma.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research