Epstein-Barr virus recruits PDL1-positive cells at the microenvironment in pediatric Hodgkin lymphoma


Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2020 Nov 12. doi: 10.1007/s00262-020-02787-2. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: Classic Hodgkin lymphoma (cHL) is a lymphoid malignancy in which the microenvironment, where the neoplastic cells are immersed, contributes to the lymphomagenesis process. Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) presence also influences cHL microenvironment composition and contributes to pathogenesis. An increase in PDL1 expression in tumor cells and at the microenvironment was demonstrated in adult cHL. Therefore, our aim was to assess PD1/PDL1 pathway and EBV influence on this pathway in pediatric cHL, given that in Argentina, our group proved a higher incidence of EBV-associated pediatric lymphoma in children.

METHODS: For that purpose, EBV presence was assessed by in situ hybridization, whereas PD1 and PDL1 expressions were studied by immunohistochemistry. PDL1 genetic alterations were analyzed by FISH, and survival was evaluated for PD1 and PDL1 expressions.

RESULTS: EBV presence demonstrated no influence neither on PD1 expression at the microenvironment nor on PDL1 expression at HRS tumor cells. Unexpectedly, only 38% pediatric cHL displayed PDL1 genetic alterations by FISH, and no difference was observed regarding EBV presence. However, in EBV-related cHL cases, a higher number of PDL1 + cells were detected at the microenvironment.

CONCLUSION: Even though a high cytotoxic environment was previously described in EBV-related pediatric cHL, it might be counterbalanced by an immunoregulatory micro-environmental PDL1 + niche. This regulation may render a cytotoxic milieu that unsuccessfully try to eliminate EBV + Hodgkin Reed Sternberg tumor cells in pediatric patients.