Frequent T and B cell oligoclones in histologically and immunophenotypically characterized angioimmunoblastic lymphadenopathy

Am J Pathol. 2000 Feb;156(2):661-9. doi: 10.1016/S0002-9440(10)64770-0.


The identification of clonal rearrangements of T cell receptor (TCR) genes is central to the diagnosis of T cell lymphomas. However, in angioimmunoblastic lymphadenopathy (AILD), first described as a nonneoplastic proliferation associated with immunodeficiency, the heterogeneity of TCR and IgH gene rearrangements suggest that some cases may harbor multiple lymphoid clones. In this study we have isolated DNA from archival paraffin biopsy material from 22 cases of AILD identified on the basis of classical histological and immunohistochemical features with the aim of establishing the occurrence of clones and oligoclones, the frequency of TCR and immunoglobulin heavy chain (IgH) variable (v) gene use, and the relationship of these findings to the presence of Epstein-Barr virus. DNA extracted from the biopsies was amplified using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and sequenced to detect functional and nonfunctional gene rearrangements. Epstein-Barr virus-encoded short RNA species (EBERs) were detected using in situ hybridization combined with immunochemistry to identify the phenotype of the Epstein-Barr virus-infected cells. Fifty-seven clonal products were found in 20/22 patients: TCRgamma clonal products were identified in 16/22, TCRbeta clonal products in 16/22 and IgH clonal products in 6/22 cases. Oligoclonal PCR products were seen for TCR in 3/22 and for IgH in 3/22 cases. In one biopsy PCR products from all reactions were polyclonal. Sequence analysis revealed functional TCRgamma, TCRbeta, and IgH sequences in 6/12, 9/11, and 8/8 cases, respectively. Functional TCR and/or IgH oligoclones were detected in 6/20 (30%) cases. In addition, nonfunctional TCR and IgH sequences were found in 11 cases. EBERs were identified in 18/20 cases varying from occasional to 25 to 30% nuclei staining and were associated with both T and B cells, although the majority were of indeterminate phenotype. The presence of EBERs was not associated with all clonal IgH gene rearrangements but was associated with B cell oligoclones. Patterns of gene recombinations indicated that the majority of TCRgamma recombinations used GV1 and GJ1S3/2S3 genes. Six out of eleven cases used TCR BV4S1 or BV2S1 genes associated with various BJ and BD1/2 genes. No common IgH gene usage was identified, but 8 clones had varying degrees of replacement and silent mutations (0.6-10.1%), consistent with B cell clones having undergone somatic mutation in the germinal center, and 3 clones harbored unmutated V genes, consistent with naive B cells. Our data do not support the concept of AILD as a clearly defined peripheral T cell lymphoma (PTCL). Rather, they suggest that AILD as defined by histology and immunohistochemistry is either a heterogeneous entity or represents a lymphoproliferation associated with immunodeficiency in which clonal T cell or B cell proliferation may occur.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Antigens, CD / metabolism
  • B-Lymphocytes / pathology*
  • Clone Cells
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / genetics
  • Humans
  • Immunoblastic Lymphadenopathy / genetics
  • Immunoblastic Lymphadenopathy / immunology
  • Immunoblastic Lymphadenopathy / pathology*
  • Immunoblastic Lymphadenopathy / virology
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • RNA, Viral / analysis
  • T-Lymphocytes / pathology*


  • Antigens, CD
  • RNA, Viral