Immunity, the Epstein-Barr virus and the microenvironment in lymphoma

BJH - volume 12, issue 6, october 2021

L. Marcelis MD, PhD, R. Snoeck MD, PhD, D. Dierickx MD, PhD, T. Tousseyn MD, PhD


Immune regulation therapy or ‘immunotherapy’ has been a major evolution in the field of cancer therapy in the last decade. The goal of this thesis was to better characterise multiple rare lymphoproliferative disorders in order to guide therapy development, predictive biomarker discovery and ultimately help ensuring that these novel therapies can get to the patients who stand to benefit from them. Many lymphoma types arise in a context of altered immune system function with potential implications for immunotherapy. One example of lymphoma arising in the context of chronic immune stimulation is Helico bacter Pylori infection, which is known as mucosa associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) lymphoma of the stomach. For this lymphoma we reviewed the literature and described how it is an excellent model to understand lymphomas arising in an immune stimulated context.1 Other lymphomas arise in a context of immunosuppression, of which post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorders (PTLD) are the best characterised. Besides the immune state, the presence of a virus such as the Epstein-Barr virus has major effects on lymphomas and their (immune) microenvironment with potential impact on immunotherapy. A review of EBV-related effects on PTLDs was done.² Lymphoproliferative disorder’s (LPDs) arising in the context of treatment with immunomodulatory (IM)/immunosuppressive (IS) drugs for various auto-immune diseases are lesser-known. These are called immunomodulation related lymphoproliferative disorders (IARLPD). For this thesis, we characterised one of the largest single centre case series of IARLPD.³ Finally, some lymphomas arise in specific ‘immune-privileged’ sites such as the central nervous system (CNS) called Primary central nervous system lymphoma (PCSNL). Digital slide analysis method and the novel MILAN multiplex staining technique were used to study the tumour microenvironment (TME) in PCNSL confirming the relevance of the microenvironment in the clinical behaviour of this lymphomas, highlighting potential relevance of immunotherapy and confirming the usefulness of the mentioned techniques in the study of the TME.4 For the purpose of this dissertation presentation we will focus primarily on this latter work.

(BELG J HEMATOL 2021;12(6):280-2)

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