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Blood. 2003 Nov 15;102(10):3753-8. Epub 2003 Jul 24.

Nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma with nodules resembling T-cell/histiocyte-rich B-cell lymphoma: differential diagnosis between nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma and T-cell/histiocyte-rich B-cell lymphoma.

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Department of Pathology, Josef-Schneider-Str 2, D-97080 Würzburg, Germany.


Nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma (NLPHL) and T-cell/histiocyte-rich B-cell lymphoma (T/HRBCL) are distinct tumors and are treated differently. They are linked by a morphologic and probably a biologic continuum, which renders the differential diagnosis difficult. To develop criteria to distinguish the entities along the morphologic continuum, we correlated the lymph node architecture and immunophenotype of both tumor cells and reactive components of 235 neoplasms in the spectrum of NLPHL and T/HRBCL with clinical data. Two hundred and eighteen cases fitted the World Health Organization (WHO) criteria of NLPHL (139) or T/HRBCL (79). While tumor cells in both entities were immunophenotypically similar, background composition differed: in NLPHL small B cells and CD3+CD4+CD57+ T cells were common, whereas in T/HRBCL, CD8+ cytotoxic T cells and histiocytes dominated. Follicular dendritic cells (FDCs) formed expanded meshworks in NLPHL, whereas they were absent in T/HRBCL. Seventeen cases represented a gray zone: within FDC meshworks, neoplastic B cells resided in a background depleted of small B cells but rich in T cells and histiocytes. Tumor cells either were loosely scattered or formed clusters, thus resembling areas of either T/HRBCL or inflammatory diffuse large BCL (DLBCL) within the nodules. Patients with these NLPHLs with T-cell/histiocyte-rich nodules presented at a high stage and with B symptoms, as in T/HRBCL, but had an excellent survival, as in NLPHL. This morphologic pattern suggests a biologic continuum between NLPHL and T/HRBCL.

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