OUP user menu

Hairy Cell Leukemia Variant
Fact or Fiction

Melissa H. Cessna MD, Leah Hartung, Sheryl Tripp, Sherrie L. Perkins MD, PhD, David W. Bahler MD, PhD
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1309/8QYTYQ1CLQMHQ9CL 132-138 First published online: 1 January 2005


Hairy cell leukemia variant (HCL-V) is a poorly described, rare B-cell lymphoproliferative disorder typically positive for CD103 and CD11c, while lacking CD25. Splenic marginal zone lymphomas (SMZL) also have this unusual phenotype in 15% to 25% of cases, have other overlapping clinical or morphologic features, and are more common than HCL-V. The purpose of our study was to better characterize HCL-V and determine whether most cases could be distinguished from SMZL. Cases with an HCL-V phenotype were identified from our flow cytometry service, and 10 were selected for further study based on bone marrow or splenic tissue availability. All cases had cytologic features consistent with HCL-V, and 9 of 10 patients had lymphocytosis. Bone marrow involvement was mostly interstitial and/or sinusoidal without lymphoid nodules. Coexpression of preswitched with postswitched heavy chain isotypes, an unusual feature of HCL, was seen in 2 of 4 cases. This study better defines HCL-V and establishes that most cases do not represent SMZL.

Key Words:
  • Hairy cell leukemia variant
  • Hairy cell leukemia
  • Splenic marginal zone lymphoma