Expression of CD68+ tumor-associated macrophages in patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma and its relation to prognosis

Pathol Int. 2008 Aug;58(8):529-32. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1827.2008.02268.x.


Tumor-associated macrophages (TAM) have been ascribed both pro- and anti-tumor properties, but the majority of clinical cancer studies have shown that the presence of a high number of TAM is related to poor prognosis, suggesting that TAM predominantly exert pro-tumoral activity. The prognostic role of TAM in patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), however, is so far unknown. Therefore, TAM were immunohistochemically stained with a CD68 antibody in a retrospective, population-based study including 176 DLBCL patients treated with curative intent. With the exception that patients >60 years of age had a larger number of CD68+ cells (1143 vs 1018 cells/mm2; P = 0.05), no significant differences were found between the number of CD68+ cells and other clinical factors. Similarly, germinal center B-cell (GCB)/non-GCB immunophenotype or low/high Ki-67 percentage were not associated with CD68 expression. Finally, no significant correlation was found between the number of CD68+ cells and progression-free survival (P = 0.34) or overall survival (P = 0.94). These data indicate that the pro-tumor effect of TAM has limited clinical relevance in DLBCL patients, which could imply that therapeutic strategies aimed at enhancing their anti-tumor activity are of continuous clinical interest.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antigens, CD / metabolism*
  • Antigens, Differentiation, Myelomonocytic / metabolism*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Cell Count
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Germinal Center / immunology
  • Germinal Center / metabolism
  • Germinal Center / pathology
  • Humans
  • Ki-67 Antigen / metabolism
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse / immunology
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse / mortality
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse / pathology*
  • Macrophages / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Prognosis
  • Survival Rate
  • Sweden / epidemiology


  • Antigens, CD
  • Antigens, Differentiation, Myelomonocytic
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • CD68 antigen, human
  • Ki-67 Antigen