Biological prognostic markers in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma

Cancer Control. 2012 Jul;19(3):214-26. doi: 10.1177/107327481201900306.


Background: Multiple novel therapeutic options have emerged in the treatment of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, including monoclonal antibodies and different classes of biological agents. With this increased diagnostic sophistication, novel prognostic markers are needed to stratify patients according to risk factors, particularly those with a mechanistic underpinning, to provide the basis for individually tailored treatment.

Methods: Numerous prognostic markers have been proposed in patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), and this review discusses the more studied and the most widely used prognostic markers in DLBCL in the rituximab era.

Results: Prognostic markers in DLBCL include a range of biomarkers assessed by morphology, immunohistochemistry, and relatively novel molecular methods including gene expression profiling, high-resolution array comparative genomic hybridization, and next-generation sequencing. Most of these methods are not routinely used due to substantial cost, technical complexity, and the requirement for fresh or frozen tissue.

Conclusions: Efforts are underway to translate previous microarray findings to platforms that can be readily used in routine clinical practice with high reproducibility, precise measurements, and minimal loss of information. At the present time, there is no consensus on which biological prognostic markers should be routinely assessed in patients with DLBCL, and practices vary widely among different institutions. With more global approaches, the ability to assess biomarkers in the cellular or tumor context may be possible, resulting in a better understanding of their biological and prognostic significance.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse / diagnosis
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse / genetics*
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse / metabolism*
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse / pathology
  • Prognosis


  • Biomarkers, Tumor