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J Exp Med. 2008 Sep 29;205(10):2251-68. doi: 10.1084/jem.20080809. Epub 2008 Sep 15.

Origin and pathogenesis of nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma as revealed by global gene expression analysis.

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  • 1Institute for Cell Biology (Tumor Research), University of Duisburg-Essen Medical School, 45122 Essen, Germany.


The pathogenesis of nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma (NLPHL) and its relationship to other lymphomas are largely unknown. This is partly because of the technical challenge of analyzing its rare neoplastic lymphocytic and histiocytic (L&H) cells, which are dispersed in an abundant nonneoplastic cellular microenvironment. We performed a genome-wide expression study of microdissected L&H lymphoma cells in comparison to normal and other malignant B cells that indicated a relationship of L&H cells to and/or that they originate from germinal center B cells at the transition to memory B cells. L&H cells show a surprisingly high similarity to the tumor cells of T cell-rich B cell lymphoma and classical Hodgkin lymphoma, a partial loss of their B cell phenotype, and deregulation of many apoptosis regulators and putative oncogenes. Importantly, L&H cells are characterized by constitutive nuclear factor kappaB activity and aberrant extracellular signal-regulated kinase signaling. Thus, these findings shed new light on the nature of L&H cells, reveal several novel pathogenetic mechanisms in NLPHL, and may help in differential diagnosis and lead to novel therapeutic strategies.

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