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Aberrant Expression of T-Cell–Associated Antigens on B-Cell Non-Hodgkin Lymphomas

Zahid Kaleem MD, Glenda White MT(ASCP), Mary M. Zutter MD
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1309/V8YG-8PP4-B4TE-9X6J 396-403 First published online: 1 March 2001


We describe 9 well-characterized cases of B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) that showed aberrant expression of T-cell–associated antigens by 2-color flow cytometry. Cases were as follows: chronic lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocytic lymphoma, 4; follicle center cell lymphoma, 2; mantle cell lymphoma, 1; and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, 2. CD2 was the most commonly expressed antigen (5 cases). CD8 and CD7 were identified in 2 cases each, including 1 case that expressed both CD7 and CD4. The disease course and response to treatment were compatible with the type and stage of lymphoma. No unusually aggressive behavior was noted in any case. A control group of 59 cases of benign lymph nodes analyzed during the same period showed no aberrant expression of T-cell–associated antigens; thus, such expression is not a feature of benign lymphoid proliferations. Study of these B-cell lymphomas may prove invaluable to study aberrant activation of silent or repressed T-cell differentiation genes. CD2-expressing B-cell NHLs may represent clonal expansion of CD2+ B lymphocytes that normally constitute a small fraction of peripheral B lymphocytes and should not be confused with composite B- and T-cell lymphomas. Unless aggressive behavior is noted consistently, no aggressive treatment is justified.

Key Words:
  • Lymphoma
  • T-cell antigens
  • CD2
  • CD8
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
  • Flow cytometry