Tertiary lymphoid organs in the inflammatory myopathy associated with PD-1 inhibitors

Shiro Matsubara, Morinobu Seki, Shigeaki Suzuki, Takashi Komori, Mikio Takamori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Programmed cell death 1 inhibitors have revolutionized therapy for cancer by their outstanding effectiveness. However, they may cause adverse effects, among which inflammatory myopathy is one of the most disabling. To elucidate its mechanism, we analysed muscle biopsies and compared them with other inflammatory myopathies. Methods: Muscle biopsies from three patients with inflammatory myopathy after treatment with PD-1 inhibitors for cancer were subjected to immunohistochemical and ultrastructural analyses to localize CD8+ cytotoxic cells and markers of lymphoid follicles. For comparison, two cases of polymyositis and one of juvenile dermatomyositis were examined. Results: Nearly identical pathological features were observed in the three cases. In the island-like foci of inflammation, muscle fibers were undergoing degeneration. CD8+ cytotoxic T cells, macrophages, CD4+ cells, and B cells were observed in the foci. CD8+ cells were seen outside and inside the basal lamina of non-necrotic muscle fibers. Lymphoid follicle-like structures with CD21+ follicular dendritic cells were present. The blood vessels in the foci showed features consistent with the high endothelial venules, on which their markers, PNAd and CCL21, were expressed. In polymyositis, blood vessels stained only faintly for PNAd and CCL21, while in juvenile dermatomyositis, in which tertiary lymphoid follicle-like structure was reported in the past, they stained positively. Conclusions: In inflammatory myopathy associated with PD-1 inhibitors, CD8+ cells appear to predominantly destruct muscle fibers. The presence of lymphoid follicle-like structures and expression of PNAd and CCL21 on the endothelial cells suggest the tertiary lymphoid organs are formed, and involved in the leakage of lymphocytes. Thus, in the three cases examined, formation of the tertiary lymphoid organs is likely to play an important role in genesis of the PD-1 myopathy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number256
JournalJournal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Sept 18


  • Adverse effect
  • Cytotoxic T cell
  • High endothelial venule
  • Inflammatory myopathy
  • PD-1 inhibitor
  • Tertiary lymphoid organ

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Oncology
  • Pharmacology
  • Cancer Research


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