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Purpose The immune microenvironment is key to the pathophysiology of classical Hodgkin lymphoma (CHL). Twenty percent of patients experience failure of their initial treatment, and others receive excessively toxic treatment. Prognostic scores and biomarkers have yet to influence outcomes significantly. Previous biomarker studies have been limited by the extent of tissue analyzed, statistical inconsistencies, and failure to validate findings. We aimed to overcome these limitations by validating recently identified microenvironment biomarkers (CD68, FOXP3, and CD20) in a new patient cohort with a greater extent of tissue and by using rigorous statistical methodology. Patients and Methods Diagnostic tissue from 122 patients with CHL was microarrayed and stained, and positive cells were counted across 10 to 20 high-powered fields per patient by using an automated system. Two statistical analyses were performed: a categorical analysis with test/validation set-defined cut points and Kaplan-Meier estimated outcome measures of 5-year overall survival (OS), diseasespecific survival (DSS), and freedom from first-line treatment failure (FFTF) and an independent multivariate analysis of absolute uncategorized counts. Results Increased CD20 expression confers superior OS. Increased FOXP3 expression confers superior OS, and increased CD68 confers inferior FFTF and OS. FOXP3 varies independently of CD68 expression and retains significance when analyzed as a continuous variable in multivariate analysis. A simple score combining FOXP3 and CD68 discriminates three groups: FFTF 93%, 62%, and 47% (P < .001), DSS 93%, 82%, and 63% (P = .03), and OS 93%, 82%, and 59% (P = .002). Conclusion We have independently validated CD68, FOXP3, and CD20 as prognostic biomarkers in CHL, and we demonstrate, to the best of our knowledge for the first time, that combining FOXP3 and CD68 may further improve prognostic stratification. © 2012 by American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of Clinical Oncology

Publication Date





256 - 262