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Medline ® Abstract for Reference 42

of 'Natural killer (NK) cell large granular lymphocyte leukemia'

Nonnasal lymphoma expressing the natural killer cell marker CD56: a clinicopathologic study of 49 cases of an uncommon aggressive neoplasm.
Chan JK, Sin VC, Wong KF, Ng CS, Tsang WY, Chan CH, Cheung MM, Lau WH
Blood. 1997;89(12):4501.
Expression of the natural killer (NK) cell antigen CD56 is uncommon among lymphomas, and those that do are almost exclusively of non-B-cell lineage and show a predilection for the nasal and nasopharyngeal region. This study analyzes 49 cases of nonnasal CD56+ lymphomas, the largest series to date, to characterize the clinicopathologic spectrum of these rare neoplasms. All patients were Chinese. Four categories could be delineated. (1) Nasal-type NK/T cell lymphoma (n = 34) patients were adults 21 to 76 years of age (median, 50 years), including 25 men and 9 women. They presented with extranodal disease, usually in multiple sites. The commonest sites of involvement were skin, upper aerodigestive tract, testis, soft tissue, gastrointestinal tract, and spleen. Only 7 cases (21%) apparently had stage I disease. The neoplastic cells were often pleomorphic, with irregular nuclei and granular chromatin, and angiocentric growth was common. The characteristic immunophenotype was CD2+ CD3/Leu4- CD3epsilon+ CD56+, and 32 cases (94%) harbored Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). Follow-up information was available in 29 cases: 24 died at a median of 3.5 months; 3 were alive with relapse at 5 months to 2.5 years; and 2 were alive and well at 3 and 5 years, respectively. (2) Aggressive NK cell leukemia/lymphoma (n = 5) patients presented with hepatomegaly and blood/marrow involvement, sometimes accompanied by splenomegaly or lymphadenopathy. The neoplastic cells often had round nuclei and azurophilic granules in the pale cytoplasm. All cases exhibited an immunophenotype of CD2+ CD3/Leu4- CD56+ CD16- CD57- and all were EBV+. All of these patients died within 6 weeks. (3) In blastoid NK cell lymphoma (n = 2), the lymphoma cells resembled those of lymphoblastic or myeloid leukemia. One case studied for CD2 was negative and both cases were EBV-. One patient was alive with disease at 10 months and one was a recent case. (4) Other specific lymphoma types with CD56 expression (n = 8) included one case each of hepatosplenic gammadelta T-cell lymphoma and S100 protein+ T-cell lymphoproliferative disease and two cases each of T-chronic lymphocytic/prolymphocytic leukemia, lymphoblastic lymphoma, and true histiocytic lymphoma. All of these cases were EBV-. Six patients died at a median of 6.5 months. Nonnasal CD56+ lymphomas are heterogeneous, but all pursue a highly aggressive clinical course. The nasal-type NK/T-cell lymphoma and aggressive NK cell leukemia/lymphoma show distinctive clinicopathologic features and a very strong association with EBV. Blastoid NK cell lymphoma appears to be a different entity and shows no association with EBV.
Department of Pathology, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Kowloon, Hong Kong.