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Hodgkin / Reed-Sternberg cells and Hodgkin’s disease in patients with B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukaemia: an immunohistological, molecular and clinical study of four cases suggesting a heterogeneous pathogenetic background

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Abstract 

We report the immunohistological, molecular and clinical findings in four patients affected by B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) who developed ”Richter’s syndrome with Hodgkin’s disease (HD) features” or ”CLL with Hodgkin’s transformation”, all characterised by the presence of typical Hodgkin / Reed-Sternberg (H/RS) cells in lymph node biopsies. In three cases the nodal involvement by CLL was demonstrated both by the presence of a predominant background of CD5/CD19/CD23+ small lymphocytes and an IgH monoclonal rearrangement revealed by PCR analysis. Conversely, in the remaining case there was neither immunohistological nor molecular evidence of lymph node involvement by CLL. In all four cases H/RS cells were Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) latent membrane protein (LMP-1) positive. These findings suggest that the presence of H/RS cells in the first three patients, who had CLL/HD nodal involvement, might be related to transformation or clonal evolution of CLL cells in H/RS cells, which is in keeping with use of the term ”CLL with Hodgkin’s transformation”. In the fourth case a de novo HD may be postulated, representing a second malignancy presumably not clonally related to CLL. In all cases a key pathogenetic role of EBV is suggested by the expression of LMP-1 in H/RS cells. Our findings indicate that the presence of typical H/RS cells in lymph node biopsies in CLL patients may reflect a heterogeneous pathogenetic background. The different clinico-pathologic settings should be taken into consideration because of their possible implications for patients’ treatment and prognosis.

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Received: 19 August 1999 / Accepted: 30 January 2000

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Pescarmona, E., Pignoloni, P., Mauro, F. et al. Hodgkin / Reed-Sternberg cells and Hodgkin’s disease in patients with B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukaemia: an immunohistological, molecular and clinical study of four cases suggesting a heterogeneous pathogenetic background. Virchows Archiv 437, 129–132 (2000). https://doi.org/10.1007/s004280000214

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  • Key words Hodgkin’s disease
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
  • Epstein-Barr virus