PurposeWe previously reported that constitutive STAT3 activation is a prominent feature of the activated B-cell subtype of diffuse large B-cell lymphomas (ABC-DLBCL). In this study, we investigated whether STAT3 activation can risk stratify patients with DLBCL.
Patients and methodsBy an immunohistochemical method, we investigated phosphotyrosine STAT3 (PY-STAT3) expression from 185 patients with DLBCL treated with R-CHOP (rituximab plus cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisone). Cell line-based siRNA experiments were also performed to generate an 11-gene, PY-STAT3 activation signature, which was used to study a previously published cohort of 222 patients with DLBCL. The STAT3 activation status determined by these two methods and by STAT3 mRNA levels were then correlated with survival.
ResultsPY-STAT3 was detected in 37% of DLBCL and enriched in ABC-DLBCL cases (P = .03). PY-STAT3 positivity significantly correlated with poor overall survival (OS; P = .01) and event-free survival (EFS; P = .006). Similar observations were made for high levels of STAT3 mRNA. In multivariable analysis, PY-STAT3 status (P = .02), International Prognostic Index (P = .02), and BCL2 expression (P = .046) were independent prognosticators of OS in this cohort. Among the cell-of-origin subgroups, PY-STAT3 was associated with poor EFS among non-germinal center B-cell DLBCL cases only (P = .027). Similarly, the 11-gene STAT3 activation signature correlated with poor survival in the entire DLBCL cohort (OS, P < .001; EFS, P < .001) as well as the ABC-DLBCL subgroup (OS, P = .029; EFS, P = .025).
ConclusionSTAT3 activation correlated with poor survival in patients with DLBCL treated with R-CHOP, especially those with tumors of the ABC-DLBCL subtype.