Fibroblasts in Nodular Sclerosing Classical Hodgkin Lymphoma Are Defined by a Specific Phenotype and Protect Tumor Cells from Brentuximab-Vedotin Induced Injury

Katrin Bankov, Claudia Döring, Adam Ustaszewski, Maciej Giefing, Marco Herling, Chiara Cencioni, Francesco Spallotta, Carlo Gaetano, Ralf Küppers, Martin-Leo Hansmann, Sylvia Hartmann

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Abstract

Classical Hodgkin lymphoma (cHL) is one of the most common malignant lymphomas in Western Europe. The nodular sclerosing subtype of cHL (NS cHL) is characterized by a proliferation of fibroblasts in the tumor microenvironment, leading to fibrotic bands surrounding the lymphoma infiltrate. Several studies have described a crosstalk between the tumour cells of cHL, the Hodgkin- and Reed-Sternberg (HRS) cells, and cancer-associated fibroblasts. However, to date a deep molecular characterization of these fibroblasts is lacking. Thus, the aim of the present study is a comprehensive characterization of these fibroblasts. Gene expression profiling and methylation profiles of fibroblasts isolated from primary lymph node suspensions revealed persistent differences between fibroblasts obtained from NS cHL and lymphadenitis. NS cHL derived fibroblasts exhibit a myofibroblastic phenotype characterized by myocardin (MYOCD) expression. Moreover, TIMP3, an inhibitor of matrix metalloproteinases, was strongly upregulated in NS cHL fibroblasts, likely contributing to the accumulation of collagen in sclerotic bands of NS cHL. As previously shown for other types of cancer-associated fibroblasts, treatment by luteolin could reverse this fibroblast phenotype and decrease TIMP3 secretion. NS cHL fibroblasts showed enhanced proliferation when they were exposed to soluble factors released from HRS cells. For HRS cells, soluble factors from fibroblasts were not sufficient to protect them from Brentuximab-Vedotin induced cell death. However, HRS cells adherent to fibroblasts were protected from Brentuximab-Vedotin induced injury. In summary, we confirm the importance of fibroblasts for HRS cell survival and identify TIMP3 which probably contributes as a major factor to the typical fibrosis observed in NS cHL.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCancers
Volume11
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 30 2019

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