Evaluation of NF-κB subunit expression and signaling pathway activation demonstrates that p52 expression confers better outcome in germinal center B-cell-like diffuse large B-cell lymphoma in association with CD30 and BCL2 functions
Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse
NF-kappa B p52 Subunit
Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
Nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) is a transcription factor with a well-described oncogenic role. Study for each of five NF-κB pathway subunits was only reported on small cohorts in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL). In this large cohort (n=533) of patients with de novo DLBCL, we evaluated the protein expression frequency, gene expression signature, and clinical implication for each of these five NF-κB subunits. Expression of p50, p52, p65, RELB, and c-Rel was 34%, 12%, 20%, 14%, and 23%, whereas p50/p65, p50/c-Rel, and p52/RELB expression was 11%, 11%, and 3%, respectively. NF-κB subunits were expressed in both germinal center B-cell-like (GCB) and activated B-cell-like (ABC) DLBCL, but p50 and p50/c-Rel were associated with ABC-DLBCL. p52, RELB, and p52/RELB expressions were associated with CD30 expression. p52 expression was negatively associated with BCL2 (B-cell lymphoma 2) expression and BCL2 rearrangement. Although p52 expression was associated with better progression-free survival (PFS) (P=0.0170), singular expression of the remaining NF-κB subunits alone did not show significant prognostic impact in the overall DLBCL cohort. Expression of p52/RELB was associated with better overall survival (OS) and PFS (P=0.0307 and P=0.0247). When cases were stratified into GCB- and ABC-DLBCL, p52 or p52/RELB dimer expression status was associated with better OS and PFS (P=0.0134 and P=0.0124) only within the GCB subtype. However, multivariate analysis did not show p52 expression to be an independent prognostic factor. Beneficial effect of p52 in GCB-DLBC appears to be its positive correlation with CD30 and negative correlation with BCL2 expression. Gene expression profiling (GEP) showed that p52(+) GCB-DLBCL was distinct from p52(-) GCB-DLBCL. Collectively, our data suggest that DLBCL patients with p52 expression might not benefit from therapy targeting the NF-κB pathway.