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Open Access Research article

A stable aberrant immunophenotype characterizes nearly all cases of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma in blood and can be used to monitor response to therapy

LaBaron T Washington1, Yang O Huh1, Linda C Powers1, Madeleine Duvic2 and Dan Jones1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Hematopathology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston TX, USA

2 Department of Dermatology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston TX, USA

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BMC Clinical Pathology 2002, 2:5  doi:10.1186/1472-6890-2-5

Published: 10 December 2002

Abstract

Background

Abnormal variations in the expression level of some commonly expressed T-cell antigens are a feature of many T-cell malignancies.

Methods

We sought to assess the frequency of such abnormal antigen expression by flow cytometry in peripheral blood (PB) samples from patients with mycosis fungoides (MF) and Sézary syndrome (SS). We correlated presence of morphologically identifiable tumor cells on PB smear with the frequency of abnormalities in the level of expression of CD3, CD4, CD7, CD8 and CD26. We also examined the degree of stability of these abnormal findings in tumor cells over the course of disease. The flow cytometric findings in 100 PB samples from 44 patients, including 38 who had multiple sequential PB samples (2–8 samples each), were assessed.

Results

Abnormalities were seen in the expression level of one or more T-cell markers in 41 cases (93%) including CD3 in 34% of patients, CD4 in 54%, CD26 in 86% and CD 45 in 40% (10 cases tested). In all but 2 cases, the abnormal T-cell immunophenotype remained similar over the course of treatment and correlated with the relative numbers of tumor cells counted on PB smear.

Conclusions

Using a standard T-cell panel, stable phenotypically aberrant T-cell populations representing the tumor are detected in the vast majority of involved PB samples in MF/SS and can be used to monitor response to therapy.

Keywords:
Mycosis fungoides; flow cytometry; T-cell lymphoma; tumor markers