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Leukemia. 2010 Dec;24(12):2080-9. doi: 10.1038/leu.2010.223. Epub 2010 Oct 14.

Follicular lymphoma cell niche: identification of a preeminent IL-4-dependent T(FH)-B cell axis.

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Pôle Cellules & Tissus, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire (CHU) Pontchaillou, Rennes, France.


Follicular lymphoma (FL) B cells contract tight connections with their microenvironment, which governs the pathogenesis and progression of the disease. Indeed, specific immune response gene signatures, obtained from whole biopsy samples, have been associated with patient survival. In this study, we performed gene expression profiling of purified B cell and non-B cell compartments obtained from FL and reactive lymph nodes. We identified 677 non-redundant genes defining the FL interface and involving 26 FL-specific functional networks. This approach highlighted an interleukin-4 (IL-4)-centered pathway associated with an activation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 6 (STAT6), which favors overexpression of IL-4-target genes. In addition, FL microenvironment was characterized by a strong enrichment in follicular helper T cells (T(FH)), as demonstrated through transcriptomic and flow cytometry analyses. The majority of phospho-STAT6(pos) B cells were located at the vicinity of cells expressing the programmed death 1 (PD-1) T(FH) marker. Moreover, purified FL-derived T(FH), expressed IL4 at very high levels compared with purified tonsil-derived T(FH) or non-T(FH) microenvironment. Altogether, our study demonstrated that tumor-infiltrating T(FH) specifically express functional IL-4 in FL, creating an IL-4-dependent T(FH)-B cell axis. This cross talk could sustain FL pathogenesis and represent a new potential therapeutic target.

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