Tumor-infiltrating B lymphocytes (TIL-B) have demonstrated prognostic and predictive significance in solid cancers. In this study, we aimed to distinguish TIL-Bs from malignant B-cells in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) and determine the clinical and biological significance.
A total of 269 patients with de novo DLBCL from the International DLBCL R-CHOP Consortium Program were studied. Ultra-deep sequencing of the immunoglobulin genes was performed to determine B-cell clonotypes. The frequencies and numbers of TIL-B clonotypes in individual repertoires were correlated with patient survival, gene expression profiling (GEP) data, and frequencies of DLBCL-infiltrating immune cells quantified by fluorescent multiplex IHC at single-cell resolution.
TIL-B abundance, evaluated by frequencies of normal B-cell clonotypes in the immunoglobulin repertoires, remarkably showed positive associations with significantly better survival of patients in our sequenced cohorts. DLBCLs with high versus low TIL-B abundance displayed distinct GEP signatures, increased pre-memory B-cell state and naïve CD4 T-cell state fractions, and higher CD4+ T-cell infiltration. TIL-B frequency, as a new biomarker in DLBCL, outperformed the germinal center (GC) B-cell–like/activated B-cell–like classification and TIL-T frequency. The identified TIL-B–high GEP signature, including genes upregulated during T-dependent B-cell activation and those highly expressed in normal GC B cells and T cells, showed significant favorable prognostic effects in several external validation cohorts.
TIL-B frequency is a significant prognostic factor in DLBCL and plays a crucial role in antitumor immune responses. This study provides novel insights into the prognostic determinants in DLBCL and TIL-B functions with important therapeutic implications.