The challenge of the microenvironment in B-cell lymphomas

Histopathology. 2011 Jan;58(1):69-80. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2559.2010.03706.x.


B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphomas (B-NHL) represent the most common malignant lymphoid neoplasms, with the majority of these arising from germinal centre or post-germinal centre B cells, due to (at least) a disruption of the different phases of normal B-cell development. The most common B-cell lymphoma subtypes include follicular lymphoma, diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, marginal zone lymphoma and mantle cell lymphoma. As with other malignancies, it has been demonstrated that the development and progression of B-cell lymphomas involves complex interactions between the neoplastic B-cells and the surrounding microenvironment, including stromal cells, the intratumoral vasculature, the various types of macrophages, as well as T-cells, including regulatory T-cells (also termed T-regs). The complex communications between the cell populations involves interplay between chemokines, chemokine receptors and adhesion molecules, and the balance between these determines whether there is a tumour cell growth promotion or inhibition. The demonstration of the importance of the microenvironment in B-NHL has been shown recently using methodologies such as gene expression profiling, and has been validated in some B-NHL lymphoma subtypes using other techniques, such as immunohistochemistry. This is particularly in the case of follicular lymphomas, in which both T-regs and macrophages have been demonstrated to have prognostic value. As such, the microenvironment of B-cell lymphomas represents a challenge to the development of therapeutic agents, requiring re-direction and inclusion of these non-neoplastic supportive cells into future treatment strategies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell / classification
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell / immunology*
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell / pathology*
  • Lymphoma, Follicular / metabolism
  • Lymphoma, Follicular / pathology
  • Lymphoma, T-Cell / metabolism
  • Lymphoma, T-Cell / pathology
  • Stromal Cells / metabolism
  • Stromal Cells / pathology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / pathology
  • Tumor Microenvironment / immunology*