EBV-associated primary CNS lymphoma occurring after immunosuppression is a distinct immunobiological entity

Blood. 2021 Mar 18;137(11):1468-1477. doi: 10.1182/blood.2020008520.


Primary central nervous system lymphoma (PCNSL) is confined to the brain, eyes, and cerebrospinal fluid without evidence of systemic spread. Rarely, PCNSL occurs in the context of immunosuppression (eg, posttransplant lymphoproliferative disorders or HIV [AIDS-related PCNSL]). These cases are poorly characterized, have dismal outcome, and are typically Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-associated (ie, tissue-positive). We used targeted sequencing and digital multiplex gene expression to compare the genetic landscape and tumor microenvironment (TME) of 91 PCNSL tissues all with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma histology. Forty-seven were EBV tissue-negative: 45 EBV- HIV- PCNSL and 2 EBV- HIV+ PCNSL; and 44 were EBV tissue-positive: 23 EBV+ HIV+ PCNSL and 21 EBV+ HIV- PCNSL. As with prior studies, EBV- HIV- PCNSL had frequent MYD88, CD79B, and PIM1 mutations, and enrichment for the activated B-cell (ABC) cell-of-origin subtype. In contrast, these mutations were absent in all EBV tissue-positive cases and ABC frequency was low. Furthermore, copy number loss in HLA class I/II and antigen-presenting/processing genes were rarely observed, indicating retained antigen presentation. To counter this, EBV+ HIV- PCNSL had a tolerogenic TME with elevated macrophage and immune-checkpoint gene expression, whereas AIDS-related PCNSL had low CD4 gene counts. EBV-associated PCNSL in the immunosuppressed is immunobiologically distinct from EBV- HIV- PCNSL, and, despite expressing an immunogenic virus, retains the ability to present EBV antigens. Results provide a framework for targeted treatment.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Central Nervous System Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Central Nervous System Neoplasms / genetics
  • Central Nervous System Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Central Nervous System Neoplasms / virology
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections / complications*
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections / genetics
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections / immunology*
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections / virology
  • Female
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / immunology*
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Immune Tolerance
  • Lymphoma / etiology
  • Lymphoma / virology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation
  • Transcriptome
  • Tumor Microenvironment