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Medicine (Baltimore). 1984 Sep;63(5):274-90.

Atypical lymphoplasmacytic and immunoblastic proliferation in lymph nodes of patients with autoimmune disease (autoimmune-disease-associated lymphadenopathy).


This study is based on an analysis of the morphologic, clinical, and laboratory findings in 26 patients whose pretherapy lymph node biopsies showed some, but not all, of the diagnostic features of angioimmunoblastic lymphadenopathy with dysproteinemia (AILD). Partial or complete effacement of nodal architecture by a diffuse lymphoplasmacytic and immunoblastic proliferation was a constant histologic finding. In contrast to the findings in AILD, lymphocytic depletion and pronounced arborizing vascular proliferation were often lacking. Clinically, many of the patients had fever, sweats, weight loss, skin rashes, generalized lymphadenopathy, hepatosplenomegaly, and, in some cases, pulmonary infiltrates. Of the 26 patients, 23 had clinical and/or laboratory evidence of autoimmune disease or immune complex disease. In 12 patients (Group I--idiopathic), various autoantibodies or immune complexes were demonstrable, but these patients did not manifest a well-defined immunologic disease or syndrome. In 11 patients (Group II--secondary), the lymphadenopathy occurred secondary to a well-defined, clinically recognized immunologic disease. Three patients (Group III) had neither a well-defined autoimmune disease nor demonstrable autoantibodies, but two of them had a history of exposure to antibiotics. We suggest that patients whose lymph nodes have the morphologic features described here frequently have an autoimmune disorder, and that the pathogenesis of this clinicopathologic picture is probably related to a deficiency in suppressor T-cell function which results in an unopposed proliferation of B cells with autoantibody formation and polyclonal gammopathy. Our observations should stimulate clinicians to consider the possibility of an autoimmune pathogenesis for a lymphadenopathy in which a florid lymphoplasmacytic and immunoblastic proliferation similar to that observed in AILD is demonstrated, even though the sections may not meet all the histologic criteria reported for the diagnosis of AILD. Clinical and laboratory investigations necessary to confirm the presence of autoimmunity are indicated in these cases. Moreover, since there is evidence of genetic factors predisposing to autoimmune disease (17, 43), it would be important to investigate close relatives of patients whose lymph nodes showed the histologic changes described in this paper in prospective studies which include suppressor T-cell function, autoantibodies, HLA type of blood lymphocytes and chromosomal analysis. The median survival of the 23 patients with stigmata of autoimmune disease or immune complex disease was 36 months.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).

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