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Blood. 2007 Jun 1;109(11):4952-63. Epub 2007 Feb 6.

The gene expression profile of nodal peripheral T-cell lymphoma demonstrates a molecular link between angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma (AITL) and follicular helper T (TFH) cells.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Centre Hospitalo-Universitaire Sart-Tilman, Tour de Pathologie +1, University of Liège, 4000 Liège, Belgium.


The molecular alterations underlying the pathogenesis of angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma (AITL) and peripheral T-cell lymphoma, unspecified (PTCL-u) are largely unknown. In order to characterize the ontogeny and molecular differences between both entities, a series of AITLs (n = 18) and PTCLs-u (n = 16) was analyzed using gene expression profiling. Unsupervised clustering correlated with the pathological classification and with CD30 expression in PTCL-u. The molecular profile of AITLs was characterized by a strong microenvironment imprint (overexpression of B-cell- and follicular dendritic cell-related genes, chemokines, and genes related to extracellular matrix and vascular biology), and overexpression of several genes characteristic of normal follicular helper T (T(FH)) cells (CXCL13, BCL6, PDCD1, CD40L, NFATC1). By gene set enrichment analysis, the AITL molecular signature was significantly enriched in published T(FH)-specific genes. The enrichment was higher for sorted AITL cells than for tissue samples. Overexpression of several T(FH) genes was validated by immunohistochemistry in AITLs. A few cases with molecular T(FH)-like features were identified among CD30(-) PTCLs-u. Our findings strongly support that T(FH) cells represent the normal counterpart of AITL, and suggest that the AITL spectrum may be wider than suspected, as a subset of CD30(-) PTCLs-u may derive from or be related to AITL.

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