Plasmablastic Lymphomas: Characterization of Tumor Microenvironment Using CD163 and PD-1 Immunohistochemistry

Janice S. Ahn, Ali Al-Habib, Jeffrey A. Vos, Aliyah R. Sohani, Oralia Barboza-Quintana, Juan P. Flores, Sijin Wen, Flavia G. Rosado

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


This study aims to characterize the tumor microenvironment of plasmablastic lymphoma (PBL) in regard to the quantities of CD163(+) tumor associated macrophages (TAM) and PD1(+) tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL). This article also reviews the existing knowledge of the role of PD-1/PD-L1 pathway in the tumor microenvironment of hematopoietic neoplasms, discusses potential mechanisms to explain our findings, and outlines areas for future studies. We performed CD163 and PD1 immunohistochemical studies in 11 cases classified as plasmablastic lymphoma, and recorded the percentages of positive TAMs and TILs. Based on previous studies, cut off values of ≥30% and >5% were used to classify the cases into high TAMs and TILs, respectively. We determined that the majority of cases (8 of 11, or 73%) had high percentage of TAMs, while only a minority had high percentage of TILs (3 of 11, or 27%). Our data shows a trend towards a negative correlation between TAMs and TILs (p=0.08), and a predominance of the pattern TAMhigh/TILlow (7 of 11, or 63%) compared to other patterns. The microenvironment of plasmablastic lymphoma tends to show high percentage of TAMs (≥30%) combined with low percentage of TILs (≤5%). Additional studies are needed to determine the clinical significance of TILs and the influence of EBV and HIV infections on numbers of TILs in PBL. As high microenvironment TAMs have been associated with high microenvironment PD-L1 in other hematopoietic malignancies, our data supports the need for future studies on the expression of PD-L1 in PBL.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)213-218
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of clinical and laboratory science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2020


  • CD163
  • PD-1
  • plasmablastic lymphoma
  • tumor microenvironment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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