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Clin Lymphoma. 2001 Sep;2(2):103-8.

Molecular diagnostics in low-grade gastric marginal zone B-cell lymphoma of mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue type after Helicobacter pylori eradication therapy.

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Abteilung Hämatologie/Onkologie/Immunologie, Philipps-Universität, Marburg, Germany.


The primary gastric lymphomas are extranodal non-Hodgkin's lymphomas that likely originate from the mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT). Data suggest that chronic infection with Helicobacter pylori (H pylori) is significantly associated with the pathogenesis of low-grade gastric MALT lymphomas. This is in keeping with the observation that many patients with early low-grade MALT lymphomas have complete remissions after H pylori eradication therapy. However, the stability of these remissions remains unclear and relapses have been reported. It can be difficult to distinguish between early malignant and benign disorders of the gastric mucosa. A polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay can detect rearrangements of the variable region of immunoglobulin heavy chains. This assay can be used to distinguish the clonality of B lymphocytes and has been investigated as a test for differential diagnosis of MALT lymphomas. Monoclonality is observed in the majority of MALT-lymphoma samples at diagnosis but has been found in gastritis samples as well. Whether the presence of monoclonal B cells is associated with the risk of lymphoma progression remains unclear. As many as 50% of patients who have complete histologic remissions of MALT lymphoma after H pylori eradication therapy have persisting monoclonal bands in follow-up PCR monitoring. Although it is unclear as to whether monoclonality indicates the presence of minimal residual disease, patients who have persistent monoclonal bands during follow-up should be considered at risk for relapse. The PCR assay for rearrangements of the variable region of the immunoglobulin heavy-chain gene appears to be of low value in the diagnosis of B-cell malignancies but could provide a useful tool in the follow-up of patients who achieve remissions after H pylori eradication.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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