High expression of the CC chemokine TARC in Reed-Sternberg cells. A possible explanation for the characteristic T-cell infiltratein Hodgkin's lymphoma

Am J Pathol. 1999 Jun;154(6):1685-91. doi: 10.1016/S0002-9440(10)65424-7.


Hodgkin's lymphoma is characterized by the combination of Reed-Sternberg (R-S) cells and a prominent inflammatory cell infiltrate. One of the intriguing questions regarding this disease is what is causing the influx of T lymphocytes into the involved tissues. We applied the serial analysis of gene expression (SAGE) technique on the Hodgkin's lymphoma-derived cell line L428 and on an Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-transformed lymphoblastoid B-cell line. A frequently expressed tag in L428 corresponded to the T-cell-directed CC chemokine TARC. Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction analyses demonstrated expression of TARC in nodular sclerosis (NS) and mixed cellularity (MC) classical Hodgkin's lymphomas but not in NLP Hodgkin's lymphoma, anaplastic large-cell lymphomas, and large-B-cell lymphomas with CD30 positivity. Two of five cases of T-cell-rich B-cell lymphoma (TCRBCL) were TARC positive. RNA in situ hybridization (ISH) showed a strong signal for TARC in the cytoplasm of R-S cells, and immunohistochemical staining confirmed the presence of the TARC protein in the R-S cells of NS and MC Hodgkin's lymphomas. The lymphocytic and histiocytic (L&H)-type cells of nodular lymphocyte predominance Hodgkin's lymphoma and the neoplastic cells of non-Hodgkin's lymphomas with the exception of two cases of TCRBCL did not stain for TARC. TARC is known to bind to the CCR4 receptor, which is expressed on activated Th2 lymphocytes. The immunophenotype of lymphocytes surrounding R-S cells is indeed Th2-like, and by RNA ISH these lymphocytes showed a positive signal for the chemokine receptor CCR4. The findings suggest that production of TARC by the R-S cells may explain the characteristic T-cell infiltrate in classical Hodgkin's lymphoma.

MeSH terms

  • B-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • B-Lymphocytes / virology
  • Cell Line, Transformed
  • Cell Separation
  • Chemokine CCL17
  • Chemokines, CC / biosynthesis*
  • Chemokines, CC / genetics
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / genetics
  • Hodgkin Disease / metabolism*
  • Hodgkin Disease / pathology
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Receptors, CCR4
  • Receptors, CCR8
  • Receptors, Chemokine / genetics
  • Receptors, Chemokine / metabolism
  • Reed-Sternberg Cells / metabolism*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • T-Lymphocytes / cytology*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • CCL17 protein, human
  • CCR4 protein, human
  • CCR8 protein, human
  • Chemokine CCL17
  • Chemokines, CC
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, CCR4
  • Receptors, CCR8
  • Receptors, Chemokine