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Virchows Arch. 1999 Aug;435(2):92-100.

Clinical, immunohistochemical and phenotypic features of aggressive nodal cytotoxic lymphomas, including alpha/beta, gamma/delta T-cell and natural killer cell types.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, School of Medicine, Fukuoka University, Japan.


Cytotoxic cells include natural killer (NK) cells and cytotoxic alpha beta and gamma delta T lymphocytes (CTLs). These cells express cytotoxic molecules of T-cell restricted intracellular antigen (TIA-1), and activated cytotoxic molecules of perforin, granzyme B, and FasL. Recent studies suggest that most extranodal T-cell lymphomas are derived from CTLs, and that NK cell lymphomas are extranodal. However, only a few nodal NK and cytotoxic lymphomas have been described so far. We present here the clinicopathological features of seven cases of nodal cytotoxic T and NK cell lymphomas. The study excluded anaplastic large-cell lymphomas expressing cytotoxic molecules. The neoplastic cells of all cases contained activated cytotoxic molecules of TIA-1, granzyme B, Fas ligand, and/or perforin. Phenotypically and genotypically, four cases showed alpha beta T cell type [CD2+, CD3+, T-cell receptor (TCR)-delta-1-, beta F1+, and TCR gene rearrangement], two cases showed gamma delta cell type [CD2+, CD3+, T-cell receptor (TCR) delta-1+, beta F1-, and TCR gene rearrangement], and one case showed NK cell type [CD2+, CD3-, CD56+, T-cell receptor (TCR) delta-1-, beta F1-, and TCR gene germline]. Using Southern blot analysis, Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) sequences were detected in six cases, and monoclonal terminal repeat proliferation was confirmed. In addition, in situ hybridization (ISH) studies for EBV showed EBV infection in almost all neoplastic cells. Clinically, all patients presented with peripheral lymphadenopathy in high clinical stages and showed an aggressive course. Hepatosplenomegaly was detected in six cases. During the course of the disease, bone marrow and extranodal invasion were noted in five cases. The nodal type showed an aggressive clinical course in all cases but one, as did the extranodal type. The nodal type varied in phenotype, but was closely associated with EBV infection.

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