The Lunenburg Lymphoma Biomarker Consortium (LLBC) and VU University Medical Center (VUmc) collaborated to validate the prognostic value of recently published molecular and microenvironmental markers in Follicular Lymphoma for diagnostic implementation. In this project, led by Wendy Stevens and Matias Mendeville, 122 uniformly immunochemotherapy-treated Follicular Lymphoma patients were subjected to Next Generation Sequencing and immunohistochemical staining to study genome-wide copy number alterations, mutations in 11 genes of interest and microenvironment-related markers. The results of the study have been published in Haematologica.
In follicular lymphoma, studies addressing the prognostic value of microenvironment-related immunohistochemical markers and tumor cell-related genetic markers have yielded conflicting results, precluding implementation in practice. Therefore, the Lunenburg Lymphoma Biomarker Consortium performed a validation study evaluating published markers. To maximize sensitivity, an end of spectrum design was applied for 122 uniformly immunochemotherapy-treated follicular lymphoma patients retrieved from international trials and registries. The criteria were: early failure, progression or lymphoma-related death <2 years versus long remission, response duration of >5 years. Immunohistochemical staining for T cells and macrophages was performed on tissue microarrays from initial biopsies and scored with a validated computer-assisted protocol. Shallow whole-genome and deep targeted sequencing was performed on the same samples. The 96/122 cases with complete molecular and immunohistochemical data were included in the analysis. EZH2wild-type (P=0.006), gain of chromosome 18 (P=0.002), low percentages of CD8+ cells (P=0.011) and CD163+ areas (P=0.038) were associated with early failure. No significant differences in other markers were observed, thereby refuting previous claims of their prognostic significance. Using an optimized study design, this Lunenburg Lymphoma Biomarker Consortium study substantiates wild-type EZH2 status, gain of chromosome 18, low percentages of CD8+ cells and CD163+ area as predictors of early failure to immunochemotherapy in follicular lymphoma treated with rituximab, cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisone (R-CHOP [-like]), while refuting the prognostic impact of various other markers.