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Am J Pathol. Feb 1997; 150(2): 543–562.
PMCID: PMC1858289

Fascin, a sensitive new marker for Reed-Sternberg cells of hodgkin's disease. Evidence for a dendritic or B cell derivation?


Immunohistochemical localization of human fascin, a distinct 55-kd actin-bundling protein, was determined for a wide variety of lymphoid tissues (364 specimens total). In non-neoplastic tissues, reactivity was highly selective and localized predominantly in dendritic cells. In the thymus, this protein was distinctly localized to medullary dendritic cells. In reactive nodes, interdigitating reticulum cells of T zones, cells in subcapsular areas, and cells of the reticular network were reactive, with variable reactivity observed for follicular dendritic cells. Splenic dendritic cells of the white pulp and sinus-lining cells of the red pulp were reactive. Endothelial cells of all tissues exhibited variable reactivity. Lymphoid cells, myeloid cells, and plasma cells were uniformly nonreactive. In the peripheral blood, only dendritic (veiled) cells were reactive for fascin. A striking finding was observed for cases of Hodgkin's disease (total 187 cases). In all cases of nodular sclerosis (132), mixed cellularity (34), lymphocyte depletion (2), and unclassified types (5), all or nearly all Reed-Sternberg cells and variants were immunoreactive for fascin. Neoplastic cells exhibited strong diffuse cytoplasmic staining and frequently assumed dendritic shapes, particularly in the nodular sclerosis type, producing an interdigitating meshwork or syncytial network of cells. In cases of mixed cellularity type, neoplastic cells generally appeared more discrete. In all 14 cases of nodular lymphocyte predominance type, L&H variants were nonreactive. By contrast, neoplastic lymphoid cells of only 24 of 156 (15%) other lymphoid neoplasms (127 B cell, 27 T cell, and two null cell evaluated) were reactive for fascin. Fascin represents a highly effective marker for detection of certain dendritic cells in normal and neoplastic tissues, is an extremely consistent marker for Reed-Sternberg cells and variants of Hodgkin's disease (except L&H types), and may be helpful to distinguish between Hodgkin's disease and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in difficult cases. The staining profile for fascin raises the possibility of a dendritic cell derivation, particularly an interdigitating reticulum cell, for the neoplastic cells of Hodgkin's disease, notably in nodular sclerosis type. However, as fascin expression may be induced by Epstein-Barr virus infection of B cells, the possibility that viral induction of fascin in lymphoid or other cell types must also be considered in Epstein-Barr virus-positive cases.

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