We determined the prevalence and significance of finding B cells without surface immunoglobulin (SIg) light chain expression. The flow cytometry database at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions was searched for cases in which immunoglobulin light chain staining was performed to rule out a B-cell malignant neoplasm between January 1994 and February 2000. We excluded plasma cell dyscrasias, precursor B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia/lymphomas, and hematogones. Cases with more than 25% of B cells lacking SIg light chain expression were retrieved. Polymerase chain reaction assays for immunoglobulin heavy chain gene rearrangements were performed in SIg-negative cases with available tissue blocks. We identified 36 cases; all represented lymphoma. Their diagnoses included diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (20), HIV-related lymphoma (5), follicular lymphoma (5), Burkitt lymphoma (2), monomorphic posttransplant lymphoproliferative disorder (1), chronic lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocytic lymphoma (1), marginal zone B-cell lymphoma (1), and low grade B-cell lymphoma (I). Of the 17 Slg-negative cases with amplifiable DNAs, 12 (71%) showed a clonal immunoglobulin heavy chain gene rearrangement. SIg-negative B-cell lymphomas are rare. Complete absence of SIg light chain expression in a mature B cell proliferation can be used as a surrogate marker to help diagnose peripheral B-cell lymphoma.
- Flow cytometric immunophenotyping
- Gene rearrangement
- Polymerase chain reaction
- Surface immunoglobulin light chain
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine