A CD40/CD40-ligand interaction mediates WM cell–Tregs cross talk.
Blocking the CD40/CD40-ligand axis inhibits Treg-mediated immunosuppression and reduces WM cell growth.
Recent investigations have improved our understanding of the molecular aberrations supporting Waldenström macroglobulinemia (WM) biology; however, whether the immune microenvironment contributes to WM pathogenesis remains unanswered. First, we showed how a transgenic murine model of human-like lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma/WM exhibits an increased number of regulatory T cells (Tregs) relative to control mice. These findings were translated into the WM clinical setting, in which the transcriptomic profiling of Tregs derived from patients with WM unveiled a peculiar WM-devoted messenger RNA signature, with significant enrichment for genes related to nuclear factor κB–mediated tumor necrosis factor α signaling, MAPK, and PI3K/AKT, which was paralleled by a different Treg functional phenotype. We demonstrated significantly higher Treg induction, expansion, and proliferation triggered by WM cells, compared with their normal cellular counterpart; with a more profound effect within the context of CXCR4C1013G-mutated WM cells. By investigating the B-cell–to–T-cell cross talk at single-cell level, we identified the CD40/CD40-ligand as a potentially relevant axis that supports WM cell–Tregs interaction. Our findings demonstrate the existence of a Treg-mediated immunosuppressive phenotype in WM, which can be therapeutically reversed by blocking the CD40L/CD40 axis to inhibit WM cell growth.