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Am J Surg Pathol. 2009 Jan;33(1):81-90. doi: 10.1097/PAS.0b013e31818e52fe.

Primary cutaneous CD4+ small/medium-sized pleomorphic T-cell lymphoma expresses follicular T-cell markers.

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Lymphoma Group, Molecular Pathology Programme, Monoclonal Antibody Unit, Biotechnology Programme, Spanish National Cancer Research Centre, Hospital Universitario 12 de Octubre, Madrid, Spain.


Cutaneous CD4 small/medium-sized pleomorphic T-cell lymphoma (CSTCL) is a cutaneous T-cell lymphoma defined by a predominance of small-to-medium-sized CD4 pleomorphic T cells, with a favorable clinical course. Cases are also characterized by the presence of a rich infiltrate of reactive B cells. Recently, it has been reported that follicular helper T cells (TFH cells) display a distinct gene expression profile, positive for PD-1, CXCL13, and BCL-6. We report for the first time the expression of PD-1 and other TFH cell markers in CSTCLs and discuss its biologic significance. Sixteen CSTCLs were included in this study, and also 20 reactive inflammatory conditions, 10 primary cutaneous marginal zone, 10 follicular center lymphomas, and 5 primary CD30 cutaneous lymphomas. They were immunohistochemically analyzed for a large panel of markers. Double immunoperoxidase labeling of paraffin sections was performed for PD-1, OCT-2, and BCL-6. Clonal Ig and T-cell receptor rearrangements and Epstein-Barr virus-encoded RNA expression were also evaluated. Morphologic and clinical data were reviewed. Histologic examination showed a dense polymorphic lymphoid infiltrate throughout the dermis. Atypical large CD4 cells were positive for PD-1, CXCL13, and BCL-6 in all cases, and were attached in small clusters, or formed rosettes around CD30/OCT-2+ B blast cells. Epstein-Barr virus was not apparent in any of the cases. A dominant T-cell clone was identified in 14 cases, whereas polymerase chain reaction IgH gene rearrangement studies showed that all cases were polyclonal. None of the patients had lymphadenopathy or showed any evidence of systemic disease, nor did they have any previous history of mycosis fungoides or drug reactions. FTH cell markers are not exclusive to angioimmunoblastic lymphadenopathy but may also be seen in neoplastic cells of CSTCLs. Moreover, these findings suggest that B-cell stimulation by FTH could also take place in some cutaneous T-cell lymphomas.

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