Background and objectives: Molecular clonality analysis of immunoglobulin (Ig) and T-cell receptor (TCR) genes is a widely used diagnostic tool for discrimination between polyclonal, oligoclonal, and monoclonal lymphoproliferative skin lesions. We studied Ig/TCR clonality in a series of 60 patients with an initial suspicion of (primary) cutaneous B- or T-cell lymphoma (CBCL/CTCL). Clonality of Ig/TCR gene rearrangements was assessed by Southern blot (SB) and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis using standardized PCR primers and protocols of the BIOMED-2 Concerted Action BMH4-CT98-3936. The obtained PCR products were subjected to heteroduplex (HD) and GeneScan (GS) analysis. We compared the data of 154 samples with the histopathologic diagnosis, based on the EORTC classification of skin lymphomas.
Design and methods: Molecular results were largely concordant with histopathology. In 12 CBCL patients PCR analysis of Ig gene rearrangements detected clonality in 83% of cases whereas SB did so in 92%. Clonal TCR gene rearrangements were detected by SB in 68% of CTCL patients, whereas TCRG and TCRB PCR analysis detected clonality in 76% and 66% of cases, respectively. PCR GS analysis of TCR rearrangements appeared to be slightly more informative than HD analysis. Clonality assessment was particularly informative for studying involvement of extracutaneous sites, such as regional lymph nodes, peripheral blood, and bone marrow.
Interpretation and conclusions: Our study shows that the BIOMED-2 multiplex PCR analysis strategy is a reliable and useful technique in the diagnostic process of patients with an initial suspicion of (primary) CBCL/CTCL and for assessment of extracutaneous dissemination, provided that the results are interpreted in the context of clinical, histologic and immunophenotypic data.