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J Pathol. 1997 Nov;183(3):281-6.

Pathogenetic and clinical implications of Bcl-6 and Bcl-2 gene configuration in nodal diffuse large B-cell lymphomas.

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Department of Experimental Medicine and Pathology, Policlinico Umberto I, Rome, Italy.


Bcl-6 (LAZ-3) and Bcl-2 gene rearrangements have been respectively reported in 20-35 per cent and 10-25 per cent of diffuse large B-cell lymphomas (DLBCLs). Although these genetic lesions have been associated with different clinical outcomes (i.e., more favourable in Bcl-6 rearranged cases and poorer in Bcl-2 rearranged cases), their prognostic significance is still controversial. In the present study, we have investigated by Southern blot analysis the Bcl-6 and Bcl-2 gene configuration in a series of 80 lymph nodes involved by well-characterized DLBCLs, histologically defined according to the REAL and the updated Kiel classifications. The molecular findings have been correlated with the clinical features at presentation and with response to therapy. The majority of cases (57/80 = 71.2 per cent) had a centroblastic morphology. Bcl-6 rearrangements were detected in 23/80 cases (28.8 per cent), and were similarly associated with centroblastic (18/57 = 31.6 per cent) or immunoblastic (3/11 = 27.3 per cent) histotypes. In contrast, Bcl-2 was found to be rearranged in only three cases of centroblastic lymphoma (3.8 per cent). No significant differences were found between Bcl-6 rearranged and germline cases, as far as the clinical features at presentation are concerned. Forty-one patients, in whom the lymph node biopsy was performed at diagnosis, could be evaluated for response to treatment and clinical outcome. Most of these cases (30/41 = 73.2 per cent) were nodal DLBCL, without extranodal site involvement. Analysis of the clinical outcome showed no statistically significant differences between Bcl-6 rearranged and Bcl-6 germline cases (actuarial overall survival 50 per cent vs. 48 per cent, event-free survival 45 per cent vs. 46 per cent, at 4 years). These findings confirm that Bcl-6 rearrangements are the most frequent genetic lesion in DLBCL. The incidence of Bcl-2 involvement in our series is significantly lower than the figures reported in other studies, mainly from North American countries, probably reflecting heterogeneous patient selection and/or epidemiological variability. Finally, our results suggest that no relevant clinical differences are observed between Bcl-6 rearranged and Bcl-6 germline cases, when nodal DLBCLs are considered.

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