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Cesk Patol. 2011 Jul;47(3):106-14.

Burkitt lymphoma (BL): reclassification of 39 lymphomas diagnosed as BL or Burkitt-like lymphoma in the past based on immunohistochemistry and fluorescence in situ hybridization.

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  • 1Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, Charles University, 2nd Faculty of Medicine and Faculty Hospital Motol, Prague, Czech Republic. roman.kodet@lfmotol.cuni.cz


Burkitt lymphoma (BL) is a well characterized entity. For atypical findings a term Burkitt-like lymphoma (B-LL) was applied in the past, but the interpretation of the morphological appearances was subjective and poorly reproducible. We used a combined approach (morphology using classical histological staining; immunohistochemistry-IHC; fluorescence in situ hybridization-FISH on interphase nuclei; cytogenetics) to perform a retrospective study on 39 patients diagnosed as BL and B-LL at our department in the years 1982 to 2002. By FISH we demonstrated t(8;14)(q24;q32) in 31 patients; in further two we found a break at 8q24, suggestive of a variant translocation. In three patients with the cytogenetic investigation available we confirmed the findings of FISH--two lymphomas had the t(8;14)(q24;q32), one had t(2;8)(p12;q24). IHC showed CD20, CD10, BCL-6, p53 expression, and Ki-67 antigen in > 95% of the tumor cell population in a majority of the patients. There was a group of 4 patients in whom the t(8;14)(q24;q32) or a break at 8q24 were not found (FISH). These cases were reclassified within the WHO defined grey zone subgroup of B-cell lymphoma unclassifiable with features intermediate between diffuse large cell lymphoma (DLBCL) and Burkitt lymphoma--I-DLBCL/BL. Two further cases were reclassified as DLBCL based on a combined IHC and FISH findings. A lymphoma of one of these patients had breaks at 3q27 (BCL6) and at 14q32 (IGH) suggestive of t(3;14)(q27;q32). The overall survival estimate of 33 patients with the diagnosis of BL was 54%. Most of deaths occurred within 6 months after the tumor diagnosis. The unfavorable clinical outcome appears to be associated with a strong expression of the p53 protein in the tumor cell population. Individually utilized methods in the diagnosis of BL may lead to false diagnostic conclusions. A combined approach helps to establish a more reliable diagnosis of BL and to separate grey zone lymphomas I-DLBCL/BL and DLBCL with morphological mimics of BL to start adequate treatment. I-DLBCL/BL is a non-homogenous group of lymphomas necessitating further analysis in a prospective study.

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