Mass cytometry of Hodgkin lymphoma reveals a CD4 + regulatory T-cell-rich and exhausted T-effector microenvironment

Blood. 2018 Aug 23;132(8):825-836. doi: 10.1182/blood-2018-04-843714. Epub 2018 Jun 7.


In classical Hodgkin lymphoma (cHL), the host antitumor immune response is ineffective. Hodgkin Reed-Sternberg (HRS) cells have multifaceted mechanisms to evade the immune system, including 9p24.1/CD274(PD-L1)/PDCD1LG2(PD-L2) genetic alterations, overexpression of PD-1 ligands, and associated T-cell exhaustion and additional structural bases of aberrant antigen presentation. The clinical success of PD-1 blockade in cHL suggests that the tumor microenvironment (TME) contains reversibly exhausted T effector cells (Teffs). However, durable responses are observed in patients with β2-microglobulin/major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I loss on HRS cells, raising the possibility of non-CD8+ T cell-mediated mechanisms of efficacy of PD-1 blockade. These observations highlight the need for a detailed analysis of the cHL TME. Using a customized time-of-flight mass cytometry panel, we simultaneously assessed cell suspensions from diagnostic cHL biopsies and control reactive lymph node/tonsil (RLNT) samples. Precise phenotyping of immune cell subsets revealed salient differences between cHLs and RLNTs. The TME in cHL is CD4+ T-cell rich, with frequent loss of MHC class I expression on HRS cells. In cHLs, we found concomitant expansion of T helper 1 (Th1)-polarized Teffs and regulatory T cells (Tregs). The cHL Th1 Tregs expressed little or no PD-1, whereas the Th1 Teffs were PD-1+ The differential PD-1 expression and likely functional Th1-polarized CD4+ Tregs and exhausted Teffs may represent complementary mechanisms of immunosuppression in cHL.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / immunology*
  • Cytophotometry*
  • Hodgkin Disease / immunology*
  • Hodgkin Disease / pathology
  • Humans
  • Reed-Sternberg Cells / immunology*
  • Reed-Sternberg Cells / pathology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / pathology
  • Tumor Microenvironment / immunology*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor