Background: Growing evidence demonstrates that an increased number of CD68 positive tumor-associated macrophages (TAM) is associated with decreased survival in patients with newly diagnosed classic Hodgkin lymphoma (HL). However, the impact of TAM in relapsed and refractory disease is unknown. Design and methods: To investigate whether the presence of elevated CD68 retains its prognostic significance in the relapsed and refractory setting, we analyzed pre-salvage biopsy specimens of 81 patients with relapsed and refractory HL using a tissue microarray. Scoring of CD68 was based on the percentage of CD68 positive TAM compared to the total number of cells in representative areas. The final percent of CD68 positivity for each case was based on the average of cores available for examination. Results: In a univariate analysis, we found that patients with elevated levels of CD68 positive TAM had inferior overall survival (OS) compared with patients who had lower CD68 levels. For patients undergoing autologous stem cell transplant after salvage treatment, elevated CD68 levels were predictive of both adverse OS and event free survival. However, after adjusting for other variables, increased CD68 positive TAM did not retain prognostic significance in a multivariate model. Conclusions: In our dataset of primary refractory and relapsed Hodgkin lymphoma biopsy specimens, TAM infiltration is unable to definitively predict outcome. In order to validate these findings, TAM infiltration of relapsed and refractory specimens should be assessed prospectively and paired to initial Hodgkin lymphoma biopsies at diagnosis.
- Hodgkin lymphoma