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Am J Pathol. 1998 Dec;153(6):1707-15.

T-cell-rich large-B-cell lymphomas contain non-activated CD8+ cytolytic T cells, show increased tumor cell apoptosis, and have lower Bcl-2 expression than diffuse large-B-cell lymphomas.

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Department of Pathology, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee, USA.


The factor(s) responsible for the reduced B cell number and increased T cell infiltrate in T-cell-rich large-B-cell lymphomas (TCRBCLs) have not been well characterized. We studied 18 TCRBCLs and 12 diffuse large-B-cell lymphomas (DLBCLs) to compare the 1) predominant T cell subpopulation(s), 2) expression of cytotoxic granule proteins (TIA-1 and granzyme B), 3) level of tumor cell apoptosis (Apoptag system, Oncor, Gaithersburg, MD), and 4) expression of Ki-67 (Mib-1) and apoptosis-related proteins (fas (CD95), bcl-2, and p53). T cells in TCRBCLs and DLBCLs were predominantly CD8+ T cells expressing alphabeta T-cell receptors and TIA-1 (16 of 18 TCRBCLs with >50% TIA-1+ small lymphocytes) but lacking granzyme B (16 of 18 TCRBCLs with <25% granzyme B+ small lymphocytes). Scattered apoptotic tumor cells (confirmed with CD20 co-labeling) were present in 15 of 18 TCRBCLs, with 14 of 15 cases having <10% apoptotic cells. No apoptotic cells were seen in 12 of 12 DLBCLs. In 16 of 16 immunoreactive TCRBCLs, <25% tumor cells were bcl-2+, whereas 6 of 12 DLBCLs had >50% bcl-2+ tumor cells. CD95 (fas) expression was also lower, with 3 of 18 (16.7%) TCRBCLs versus 4 of 12 (33%) DLBCLs having >25% CD95+ tumor cells. TCRBCLs and DLBCLs had similar levels of p53 and Ki-67 (Mib-1) expression. Thus, T cells in TCRBCLs are non-activated cytotoxic T lymphocytes (TIA-1+, granzyme B-). Tumor cell apoptosis (perhaps cytotoxic T cell mediated) may partly account for the decreased number of large (neoplastic) B cells in TCRBCLs, but other factors (ie, decreased bcl-2 expression) may also be needed.

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