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Mod Pathol. 1997 Jul;10(7):650-6.

Contribution of flow cytometry to the diagnosis of gastric lymphomas in endoscopic biopsy specimens.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Immunology, and Laboratory Medicine, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville 32610-0275, USA.


Gastric lymphomas seem to have unique clinical, pathologic, and immunophenotypic features that set them apart from nodal lymphomas. Microscopic examination of endoscopic biopsy specimens is the most frequent procedure used to diagnose gastric tumors, but it is very difficult, and sometimes impossible, to recognize lymphomas in endoscopic samples by histologic or even immunohistologic methods. Because most gastric lymphomas are of B-cell origin, we used flow cytometry to assess B-cell clonality in gastric biopsy specimens containing dense lymphocytic infiltrates thought to represent lymphoma. We prepared viable cell suspensions from unfixed specimens obtained from 29 consecutive patients who had a previous microscopic diagnosis of suspicious gastric lymphoid infiltrates. We performed immunophenotypic studies with multicolor flow cytometry, and we assessed clonality by examination of immunoglobulin (Ig) light-chain expression analyzed exclusively on B cells identified by anti-CD20 or CD19 antibodies. The mean number of cells recovered was 1.04 x 10(6), from an average of 5.5 gastric biopsy fragments per patient. In 26 of the 29 patients, the number of cells was adequate for analysis. We detected B-cell monoclonality in 16 cases, including 5 in which the percentage of clonal B cells was less than 5%. Of the 16 cases, only 8 could be diagnosed as lymphomas on morphologic grounds alone; the remaining 8 patients had either suspicious lymphoid infiltrates or chronic gastritis. The three cases with an insufficient number of cells were considered non-neoplastic either on histologic grounds alone or in conjunction with Southern analysis of Ig genes. We conclude that flow cytometric immunophenotypic analysis of freshly prepared cell suspensions obtained from endoscopic biopsy specimens can be used to evaluate gastric lymphocytic infiltrates. Specifically, the analysis of surface Ig light-chain expression on B cells distinguishes between monoclonal (lymphoma) and polyclonal (nonlymphoma) infiltrates. The rapidity, ease, quantitative properties, and sensitivity of this technique make it a supplement to the morphologic assessment of gastric lymphoid infiltrates.

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