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Leuk Lymphoma. 2011 Dec;52(12):2217-25. doi: 10.3109/10428194.2011.593276. Epub 2011 Jul 13.

T-cell and natural killer-cell large granular lymphocyte leukemia neoplasias.

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Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute, Pennsylvania State College of Medicine, Hershey, PA 17033-0850, USA.


Large granular lymphocyte (LGL) leukemia is a rare disorder of cytotoxic lymphocytes. LGL cells play an integral role in the immune system and are divided into two major lineages of CD3(-)natural killer (NK) cells and CD3(+) T cells that circulate throughout the blood in search of infected cells, in which they will make contact through a receptor ligand and induce cell death. LGL cells are also programmed to undergo apoptosis after contact with an infected target cell; however, they continue to survive in individuals with LGL leukemia. This unchecked proliferation and cytotoxicity of LGLs in patients results in autoimmunity or malignancy. Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common autoimmune condition seen in individuals with LGL leukemia; however, LGL leukemia is associated with a wide spectrum of other autoimmune diseases. Patients may also suffer from other hematological conditions including hemolytic anemia, pure red cell aplasia, and neutropenia, which lead to recurrent bacterial infections. Currently, the only established treatment involves a low dose of an immunosuppressive regimen with methotrexate, in which 40-50% of patients are either resistant or do not respond. In order to establish new therapeutics it is important to understand the current state of LGL leukemia both in the clinic and in basic research.

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