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Diagnostic Significance of CD20 and FMC7 Expression in B-Cell Disorders

Julio Delgado MD, Estella Matutes MD, PhD, Alison M. Morilla, Ricardo M. Morilla MSc, Kwasi A. Owusu-Ankomah, Furheen Rafiq-Mohammed MSc, Ilaria del Giudice MD, Daniel Catovsky DMSc, FRCPath, FRCP, FMedSci
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1309/FNGCYEMJE3MAE5L2 754-759 First published online: 1 November 2003


We analyzed by flow cytometry the expression of CD20 and FMC7 in cell suspensions from 932 patients, including 630 cases of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), 23 cases of other B-cell leukemias, and 279 cases of B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma (B-cell NHL). CD20 was positive in 94.5% of cases; FMC7 was positive in 35.7%. There was a correlation between CD20 and FMC7 expression in patients with B-cell NHL (P < .001) but not CLL (P = .1). We also tested a scoring system in which FMC7 was replaced by CD20 and compared it with our current scoring system for CLL. With this modification, the accuracy of the scoring system for differentiating CLL from other non-CLL disorders fell from 94.4% to 81.5%. In CD20+ CLL, the intensity of CD20 expression correlated with FMC7 and low scores (P < .001 for both comparisons). We suggest that the particular conformation of CD20 recognized by FMC7 is manifested only in cells with strong CD20 expression, which is not the case for CLL. FMC7 is of greater diagnostic value than CD20 for distinguishing CLL from other B-cell disorders; we recommend its continued use for this purpose.

Key Words:
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
  • CLL
  • Lymphomas
  • Scoring
  • CD20
  • FMC7
  • Diagnosis