Survival of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) patients has improved by inclusion of rituximab. Refractory/recurrent disease caused by treatment resistance is, however, a major problem. Determinants of rituximab sensitivity are not fully understood, but effect of rituximab are enhanced by antagonizing cell surface receptor CXCR4. In a two-step strategy, we tested the hypothesis that prognostic value of CXCR4 in DLBCL relates to rituximab treatment, due to a hampering effect of CXCR4 on the response of DLBCL cells to rituximab. First, by investigating the prognostic impact of CXCR4 mRNA expression separately for CHOP (n=181) and R-CHOP (n=233) cohorts and, second, by assessing the interaction between CXCR4 and rituximab in DLBCL cell lines. High CXCR4 expression level was significantly associated with poor outcome only for R-CHOP-treated patients, independent of IPI score, CD20 expression, ABC/ GCB and B-cell-associated gene signature (BAGS) classifications. s. For responsive cell lines, inverse correlation was observed between rituximab sensitivity and CXCR4 surface expression, rituximab induced upregulation of surface-expressed CXCR4, and growth-inhibitory effect of rituximab increased by plerixafor, supporting negative impact of CXCR4 on rituximab function. In conclusion, CXCR4 is a promising independent prognostic marker for R-CHOP-treated DLBCL patients, possibly due to inverse correlation between CXCR4 expression and rituximab sensitivity.
- Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL)
- Drug sensitivity