The Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) system plays an important role in antitumor immune response. In the last years, different genome-wide association studies have suggested that 6p21.3 (which include HLA system), is a risk region for lymphoma susceptibility. It has been also reported that specific alleles could modify the prognosis in patients diagnosed of lymphoma, including diffuse large B cell lymphoma (DLBCL), treated without Rituximab.
Our hypothesis is that HLA system could play an essential role in disease control of DLBCL. Here, we have evaluated the effect of HLA Class I (A, B and C) and II (DRB1 and DQB1) alleles in DLBCL incidence and survival.
A total of 251 patients diagnosed of DLBCL according to the 2008 WHO classification were analyzed (68% of them received Rituximab-based regimens). Control population consisted in 1940 healthy donor individuals analyzed for HLA-A, B, and DRB1 alleles and 200 for HLA-C and HLA-DQB1.
Overall survival (OS) was calculated from diagnosis until death for any cause. Event-free survival (EFS) was calculated from diagnosis until event defined as death for any cause, relapse or progression of the disease.
Allele frequencies and Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium were estimated using the Arlequin software package, version 220.127.116.11. Comparison of allele and phenotype frequencies between populations was performed with the two-sided Fisher's exact test or χ2 test using GraphPad Prism 4.0 (GraphPad Software, Inc. San Diego, CA, USA) or SPSS software (SPSS 15.0, Inc. Chicago, IL, USA). P-value was adjusted applying a Bonferroni correction (Pc).
The effect of biological and clinical variables on OS and EFS at five years was analyzed by univariate (two-sided log-rank test) and multivariate (Cox multivariate analysis) methods. Differences were considered to be statistically significant when P< 0.05.
HLA specificities frequencies in patients and controls (Alcoceba et al, Tissue Antigens 2011) were consistent in all cases with the Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium.
Phenotypic frequencies showed significant differences in DLBCL patients compared to control population. DRB1*01 frequency was increased in DLBCL patients (28.9% vs. 19.5%, p=0.0009, Pc=0.0117, OR: 1.68; 95% CI: 1.24–2.26). By contrast, DLBCL patients showed a lower frequency in C*03 allele as compared to the control population (6.4% vs. 18.3, p=0.0005, Pc=0.007, OR: 3.2, 95% CI: 1.62–6.3).
As far as the outcome of patients was concerned, the presence of B*18 and/or B*44 was significantly associated with a worse EFS (32% vs. 60%, p<0.001 and 53% vs. 72%, p=0.025, respectively) and OS (41% vs. 78%, p<0.001, and 53% vs. 86%, p=0.006, respectively). These statistical differences were also observed in the group of patients receiving Rituximab-based regimens. The Cox multivariate analysis identified high International Prognostic Index and the presence of any B*18 or B*44 as independent adverse prognostic factors for EFS and OS.
Our data revealed that HLA specificities could influence the incidence (DRB1*01 and C*03) and outcome (B*18 and B*44) of DLBCL. These results suggest a role for HLA in the immune-surveillance of DLBCL and, also open possibilities for future investigations to answer how a specific HLA allele could affect in DLBCL.
No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.
Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.