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Diagn Mol Pathol. 1997 Jun;6(3):154-60.

PCR analysis of IgH and BCL2 gene rearrangement in the diagnosis of follicular lymphoma in lymph node fine-needle aspiration. A critical appraisal.

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  • 1Division of Pathology, Istituto Nazionale per lo Studio e la Cura dei Tumori, Milan, Italy.


In order to improve the cytomorphologic diagnosis of malignant lymphoma on lymph node fine-needle aspiration (FNA), and to make a confident discrimination between low-grade follicular non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) and lymphoid hyperplasia, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis was performed of the Ig CDR3 region and BCL2 breakpoint region in 25 nonselected cases of malignant lymphoma (17 NHL and 8 Hodgkin's disease [HD]) with histologic control, and 22 cases of lymph nodal hyperplasia with histologic and/or clinical control. Among lymphomas, IgH monoclonality was detected in 7 (77%) of 9 NHLs and BCL2 rearrangement in 3 (17.6%) of 17 NHLs, all of which were follicular centroblastic-centrocytic (FCBCC). Three BCL2/JH negative FCBCC cases were monoclonal for CDR3. Neither IgH monoclonality nor BCL2 rearrangement were found in HD. Among cytologically diagnosed lymphoid hyperplasias, one IgH polyclonal case was considered false-negative, being histologically diagnosed as lymphoplasmacytic NHL on the subsequent excisional biopsy. Another 4 cases (2 BCL2 rearranged and 2 monoclonal for IgH) were considered false-positive on the basis of histologic features or clinical control. These data indicate that the combined PCR analysis of IgH and BCL2 rearrangements can confirm a cytologic diagnosis of lymphoma in FNAs while, due to the occurrence of both false-positive and false-negative results, it is of limited value in the distinction between follicular lymphoma and lymphoid hyperplasia without morphologic or clinical support.

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