Key Points

  • EBV-tissue positive PCNSL typically has absent MYD88, CD79B and PIM1 mutations, is rarely ABC cell-of-origin and has intact HLA-class I/II

  • The tumor microenvironment in EBV-tissue positive PCNSL adapts to tolerate expression of an immunogenic virus

Primary central nervous system lymphoma (PCNSL) is confined to the brain, eyes, and cerebrospinal fluid without evidence of systemic spread. Rarely, PCNSL occurs in the context of immunosuppression, e.g. post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorders (PTLD) or HIV (AIDS-related PCNSL). These cases are poorly characterized, have dismal outcome and are typically Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-tissue positive. We used targeted sequencing and digital multiplex gene expression to compare the genetic landscape and tumor microenvironment (TME) of 91 PCNSL tissues all with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma histology. 47 were EBV-tissue negative: 45 EBV(-) HIV(-) PCNSL, 2 EBV(-) HIV(+) PCNSL; and 44 were EBV-tissue positive: 23 EBV(+) HIV(+) PCNSL, 21 EBV(+) HIV(-) PCNSL. As with prior studies, EBV(-) HIV(-) PCNSL had frequent MYD88, CD79B and PIM1 mutations, and enrichment for the activated B-cell (ABC) cell-of-origin (COO) sub-type. In contrast, these mutations were absent in all EBV-tissue positive cases and ABC frequency was low. Furthermore, copy number loss in HLA-class I/II and antigen presenting/processing genes were rarely observed, indicating retained antigen presentation. To counter this, EBV(+) HIV(-) PCNSL had a tolerogenic TME with elevated macrophage and immune-checkpoint gene expression, whereas AIDS-related PCNSL had low CD4 gene counts. EBV-tissue positive PCNSL in the immunosuppressed is immunobiologically distinct from EBV(-) HIV(-) PCNSL, and despite expressing an immunogenic virus retains the ability to present EBV-antigens. Results provide a framework for targeted treatment.

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