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Am J Surg Pathol. 1996 May;20(5):613-26.

Splenic marginal zone lymphoma. A distinct B-cell neoplasm.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN 37232, USA.


The splenic marginal zone is a morphologically and perhaps immunologically distinct B-cell compartment. Lymphomas arising from cells of the splenic marginal zone are rare. Here we describe the morphologic, immunologic, and clinical features of 14 cases. Patient age ranged from 35 to 79 years (median, 68 years) with a male-to-female ratio of 1:1.8. The spleen was uniformly enlarged (median, 1,540 g; range, 388-3,845 g) in all patients, the neoplastic infiltrate had a nodular pattern in three cases, nodular and diffuse in seven cases, and diffuse in four cases. The neoplastic cells had small to medium-sized nuclei with round, oval, or slightly indented contours, small eosinophilic nucleoli, and a moderate amount of pale cytoplasm. Extrasplenic involvement was present in 12 patients. Lymph nodes often had a vaguely nodular pattern and preservation of sinuses; bone marrow was infiltrated focally (seven cases) or diffusely (one case). Five patients had hepatic involvement. Ultrastructurally, neoplastic cells differed from other small B cells and resembled normal marginal zone cells by having long, serpentine rough endoplasmic reticulum profiles. All lymphomas marked as B cells and light chain restriction was demonstrated in 12 cases. Bcl-2 protein expression was present in all cases. Most cases (70%) were negative for DBA.44 (CD72). Plasmacytic differentiation was present in three cases. In conclusion, splenic marginal zone lymphoma is a B-cell neoplasm with distinctive clinical, morphologic, immunologic, and ultrastructural characteristics.

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