PD1/PD-L1 Expressions in Plasmablastic Lymphoma with Clinicopathological Correlation

Flavia G. Rosado, Jared Coberly, Arjun Gupta, George John, Harris Naina, Prasad Koduru, Weina Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The activation of the programmed cell death one (PD1)/PD1 ligand (PD-L1) immune checkpoint pathway is a mechanism of immune evasion characterized by the upregulation of PD-L1 expression by tumor cells and by the tumor microenvironment. This activation leads to the inhibition of PD1-positive T cells and to a decrease in the anti-tumor immune response. Plasmablastic lymphoma (PBL) is an aggressive type of large B-cell lymphoma with limited studies on the frequency of PD1 and PD-L1 expressions and their clinical impact. As PBL is associated with immune suppression in immunocompromised individuals, we hypothesize that the PD1/PD-L1 axis may be relevant in this type of lymphoma. Our study demonstrates a subset of PBL cases with a higher PD-L1 expression by tumor cells [nPD-L1high, in 4 of 21 (19%) cases] and by tumor microenvironment [macrophages/stromal cells, sPD-L1high, in 9 of 21 (43%) cases]. While nPD-L1 expression showed no significant correlation with PD1 expression on tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes, or other clinicopathological parameters, it positively correlated with sPD-L1 expression. Moreover, patients with nPD-L1high had a tendency towards a shorter overall survival (median 9.3 vs. 25.5 months in nPD-L1low patients). In conclusion, our study provides a rationale to identify, by immunohistochemistry, a subset of nPD-L1high patients who may benefit from clinical trials of PD1/PD-L1 checkpoint blockade. Further studies on large cohorts are needed to investigate prognostic and predictive biomarkers for the PD1/PD-L1 pathway in PBL patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)174-181
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of Clinical and Laboratory Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the Association of Clinical Scientists, Inc.


  • EBV
  • PD-L1
  • PD1
  • immune checkpoint
  • plasmablastic lymphoma


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