Frequent genetic alterations in immune checkpoint-related genes in intravascular large B-cell lymphoma

Blood. 2021 Mar 18;137(11):1491-1502. doi: 10.1182/blood.2020007245.


Intravascular large B-cell lymphoma (IVLBCL) is a unique type of extranodal lymphoma characterized by selective growth of tumor cells in small vessels without lymphadenopathy. Greater understanding of the molecular pathogenesis of IVLBCL is hampered by the paucity of lymphoma cells in biopsy specimens, creating a limitation in obtaining sufficient tumor materials. To uncover the genetic landscape of IVLBCL, we performed whole-exome sequencing (WES) of 21 patients with IVLBCL using plasma-derived cell-free DNA (cfDNA) (n = 18), patient-derived xenograft tumors (n = 4), and tumor DNA from bone marrow (BM) mononuclear cells (n = 2). The concentration of cfDNA in IVLBCL was significantly higher than that in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) (P < .0001) and healthy donors (P = .0053), allowing us to perform WES; most mutations detected in BM tumor DNA were successfully captured in cfDNA and xenograft. IVLBCL showed a high frequency of genetic lesions characteristic of activated B-cell-type DLBCL, with the former showing conspicuously higher frequencies (compared with nodal DLBCL) of mutations in MYD88 (57%), CD79B (67%), SETD1B (57%), and HLA-B (57%). We also found that 8 IVLBCL (38%) harbored rearrangements of programmed cell death 1 ligand 1 and 2 (PD-L1/PD-L2) involving the 3' untranslated region; such rearrangements are implicated in immune evasion via PD-L1/PD-L2 overexpression. Our data demonstrate the utility of cfDNA and imply important roles for immune evasion in IVLBCL pathogenesis and PD-1/PD-L1/PD-L2 blockade in therapeutics for IVLBCL.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Animals
  • B7-H1 Antigen / genetics
  • B7-H1 Antigen / immunology
  • Cell-Free Nucleic Acids / genetics
  • Exome Sequencing
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse / genetics*
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse / immunology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation*
  • Programmed Cell Death 1 Ligand 2 Protein / genetics
  • Programmed Cell Death 1 Ligand 2 Protein / immunology
  • Programmed Cell Death 1 Receptor / genetics
  • Programmed Cell Death 1 Receptor / immunology
  • Tumor Escape*
  • Vascular Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Vascular Neoplasms / immunology


  • B7-H1 Antigen
  • CD274 protein, human
  • Cell-Free Nucleic Acids
  • PDCD1 protein, human
  • PDCD1LG2 protein, human
  • Programmed Cell Death 1 Ligand 2 Protein
  • Programmed Cell Death 1 Receptor