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Am J Pathol. 1992 Jun;140(6):1327-35.

Follicular lymphomas of the gastrointestinal tract. Pathologic features in 31 cases and bcl-2 oncogenic protein expression.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Stanford University Medical Center, California 94305.


The gastrointestinal tract is the most common site for extranodal lymphomas, but follicular lymphomas involving the gut are rare. To study their pathologic features and bcl-2 expression, 31 follicular lymphomas of the GI tract were reviewed and unstained paraffin sections from 24 of the cases were immunohistochemically stained using a monoclonal antibody for the peptide product of the proto-oncogene bcl-2. The most common site of lymphoma involvement was the small intestine, especially the terminal ileum. Gastric lymphomas tended to present clinically with symptomatic ulcers and small intestinal lesions presented with obstruction. Five cases involving the terminal ileum or colon had a gross appearance of multitudinous mucosal polyps and were considered to represent examples of "multiple lymphomatous polyposis." Enhanced expression of the bcl-2 oncogenic protein was detectable in lymphoma cells in 75% of cases and at lower levels in normal lymphoid cells in most cases. Small cleaved or mixed cell lymphomas were more likely to show enhanced expression than were large cell cases. Reactive germinal centers showed no bcl-2 staining. It is concluded that follicular GI lymphomas are associated with distinctive pathological features. In their tendency to express bcl-2, these neoplasms resemble their lymph node-based counterparts. Immunohistochemical staining for enhanced bcl-2 expression is of potential diagnostic utility in distinguishing between follicular lymphoma and follicular lymphoid hyperplasia in the gastrointestinal tract. The relevance of the results to lymphoma of mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) is discussed.

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