PURPOSE AND EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: Loss of human leukocyte antigen (HLA) expression on tumor cells is frequent in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) arising in immune-privileged sites, such as the testis and central nervous system, and is associated with small homozygous deletions of HLA-DQ/HLA-DR and larger hemizygous deletions of the MHC region. To better understand the significance of down-regulation of HLA class II expression in relation to the homozygous and hemizygous deletions, we analyzed global gene expression patterns in a series of 26 testicular DLBCL after characterization of these deletions.
RESULTS: Low levels of HLA-DR mRNA in whole testicular DLBCL samples were associated with a strong down-regulation of numerous immune-related genes specific for T cells, macrophages, antigen presentation and processing, lymphocyte activation, chemokines and chemokine receptors, and the complement system. The number of CD3+ tumor-infiltrating T cells was also significantly lower in low expressors of HLA-DR mRNA. Interestingly, hemizygous and homozygous deletions in the MHC region did not have any additional effect on global gene expression.
CONCLUSION: In conclusion, we found that loss of HLA class II mRNA expression in testicular DLBCL is associated with a significant change in global gene expression patterns. This effect is independent of the mechanism causing the down-regulation of HLA class II genes in the lymphoma cells.