Blastic/blastoid transformation of follicular lymphoma: immunohistologic and molecular analyses of five cases

Am J Surg Pathol. 2000 Apr;24(4):525-34. doi: 10.1097/00000478-200004000-00006.


Progression of follicular lymphoma to a higher-grade malignancy frequently heralds a poor prognosis. Clinical transformation is variably accompanied by a spectrum of histologic changes characterized by alteration in growth and cytology. Although several cytogenetic events and potential oncogenes have been documented in this progression, the underlying molecular mechanisms are largely unknown. We present five patients with an unusual histologic transformation of follicular lymphoma manifested by blastic/blastoid morphology. This transformation is histologically distinct from other types of transformation of follicular lymphoma. All five cases exhibited the t(14;18) translocation and expressed the BCL-2 protein. In addition, two of the five patients showed increased levels of the p53 protein within neoplastic cells implicating a possible role for this oncogene in blastic/blastoid transformation. The lack of BCL-1 and myeloid antigens by immunohistochemistry and flow cytometry studies served to distinguish blastic/blastoid transformation of follicular lymphoma from its morphologic mimics. This distinction is clinically important because lymphoblastic and myeloid leukemias require significantly different therapeutic modalities and show better prognosis. Moreover, the lack of Epstein-Barr virus-specific mRNA suggests that this virus is unlikely to participate in blastic/blastoid transformation of follicular lymphoma.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / chemistry
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / pathology*
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 14
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 18
  • Cyclin D1 / analysis
  • Cytogenetics
  • DNA Primers / chemistry
  • DNA, Neoplasm / analysis
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma, Follicular / chemistry
  • Lymphoma, Follicular / genetics
  • Lymphoma, Follicular / pathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / analysis
  • RNA, Viral / analysis
  • Translocation, Genetic
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / analysis


  • DNA Primers
  • DNA, Neoplasm
  • Epstein-Barr virus encoded RNA 1
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • RNA, Viral
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • Cyclin D1