The tumor microenvironment in B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) plays an important role in supporting the growth and survival of malignant lymphocytes. In contrast, the extent to which this is true in T-cell NHL is less clear. While professional monocytederived antigen-presenting cells (MDC) are required for T-cell activation and survival, a growing body of evidence demonstrates that MDC may promote the survival of malignant T cells. Immunohistochemical staining of skin biopsies from cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL) patients (n=11) demonstrated a rich infiltrate of CD68+ macrophages and CD1a+ dendritic cells (DC). As these cells are derived from CD14+ monocytes, we examined the role of monocytes in promoting survival in malignant T cells obtained from CTCL patients (n=9). Initially, peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) were either depleted of CD14+ monocytes (>85% depleted) or mock-depleted prior to being cultured. Viability of malignant CD4+CD7− T cells was determined by Annexin V/7-AAD staining. While 90.9% (S.D. +/− 0.4%) of mock-depleted malignant T cells were viable, only 73.9% (S.D. +/− 1.3%) of monocyte-depleted cells remained viable, suggesting that monocytes may promote the survival of malignant T cells. In a similar fashion, HuT-78 cells (Sézary Syndrome cell line) were cocultured with CD14+ monocytes from normal donors. Compared with HuT-78 cells alone, the presence of CD14+ monocytes resulted in a 2.7 fold increase in thymidine incorporation (n=5; S.D. +/− 0.6). This is largely due to cytokine production, as the same experiment performed with a transwell insert resulted in a 2.1 fold increase in HuT-78 thymidine incorporation (n=5; S.D. +/− 0.4). Similar results were obtained using additional Sézary Syndrome (i.e. SeAx) and Mycosis Fungoides (i.e. MyLa) cell lines. Monocytes obtained from normal donors were subsequently cultured and cell-free conditioned media was obtained 48 hours later. Media supplemented with monocyte-conditioned media (monocyte-CM) prevented the induction of apoptosis in CTCL cell lines as measured by thymidine incorporation, trypan blue exclusion and Annexin V/propidium iodide staining. This affect was monocyte-specific, as neither T-cell nor B-cell conditioned media were observed to promote survival of CTCL cell lines. Furthermore, monocyte-CM had no affect on resting or anti-CD3 activated normal T cells. We next cultured malignant T cells obtained from PBMC (n=6) or skin biopsies (n=3) from CTCL patients in the presence or absence of monocyte-CM and assessed cell viability by Annexin V staining. 32.1% (S.D. +/− 14.7%) and 60.5% (S.D. +/− 21.5%) of malignant T cells isolated from PBMC remained viable in the absence or presence of monocyte-CM, respectively; 13.0% (S.D. +/− 10.8%) of malignant T cells isolated from skin biopsies remained viable, compared with 26.5% (S.D. +/− 8.2%) of cells grown in the presence of monocyte-CM (p=.03). Given the prevalence of MDC within CTCL-involved skin and their potential role in promoting the survival of malignant T cells, one may predict that malignant T cells may recruit monocytes in a chemokinedependent fashion. Therefore, cell-free conditioned media from CTCL cell lines (HuT- 78, SeAx, MyLa) was collected and used to promote monocyte chemotaxis in a standard chemotaxis assay. Only neutralization of CCL5 (RANTES) was capable of abrogating monocyte chemotaxis, demonstrating that the production of CCL5 by malignant T cells promotes monocyte migration. Therefore, we examined serum CCL5 levels by ELISA from both normal donors (n=24) and CTCL patients (n=23) and found an approximately 3-fold elevation in serum CCL5 in CTCL patients (normal donors: mean CCL5 10.0 ng/mL; 95% CI 7.1–13.0; CTCL patients: mean 29.2 ng/mL; 95% CI 20.6–37.8; p<0.0001). Serial serum samples were available for 6 patients, 4 of whom had progressive disease. Serum CCL5 increased from a mean of 17.9 ng/mL before progression (S.D. +/− 7.0) to 44.8 ng/mL (S.D. +/− 20.0) after progression (p=.04). In contrast, serum CCL5 decreased by at least 50% in both patients with responsive disease. Our findings demonstrate that monocytes, recruited by malignant T cells in a CCL5-dependent fashion, promote the survival of lymphoma cells in CTCL, thus raising the possibility that targeting tumor-associated monocytes and MDC may represent a novel therapeutic strategy in CTCL.
Disclosures: No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.