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Ann Oncol. 2000;11 Suppl 1:35-8.

Burkitt lymphoma is immunophenotypically different from Burkitt-like lymphoma in young persons.

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State University of New York Health Science Center, Syracuse, USA.



Burkitt-like lymphoma (BLL) is a provisional category of B-cell lymphoma which is morphologically intermediate between Burkitt lymphoma (BL) and large B-cell lymphoma (LBCL). The clinical significance of this morphology is controversial.


We examined 41 cases of pediatric B-cell lymphoma by immunohistochemistry for proteins associated with proto-oncogenes c-myc, BCL-2 and BCL-6 and a subset of cases (with adequate slides) for a proliferation-associated marker (Ki-67) and for apoptosis (Apop-Tag). Sixteen cases of BLL, thirteen cases of BL and twelve cases of LBCL were examined.


Our results showed BCL-6 expression in 16 of 16 BLL, 4 of 13 BL, and 9 of 12 LBCL; c-myc expression in 14 of 15 BLL, 9 of 13 BL, and 12 of 12 LBCL; and BCL-2 expression in 2 of 16 BLL, 9 of 13 BL, and 6 of 12 LBCL. Mean apoptotic index for BLL was 10.3% (n = 6); for BL was 17.1% (n = 5); and for LBCL was 10.9% (n = 6). Ki-67 was diffusely reactive in all cases tested. There was a significantly higher proportion of BLL than BL which expressed BCL-6 (P = 0.0001).


Labeling for BCL-6 distinguishes BLL from BL. It is likely that in children in North America, BLL is biologically distinct from BL and more closely resembles a subset of LBCL.

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