B-cell monoclonality is associated with lymphoid follicles in gastritis

Am J Surg Pathol. 2003 Jul;27(7):882-7. doi: 10.1097/00000478-200307000-00002.


The gold standard for diagnosis of gastric MALT lymphoma is histopathology. Polymerase chain reaction-based assays to detect the expansion of monoclonal B cells have also been used to corroborate the diagnosis. However, there are conflicting data on monoclonal B-cell expansion in gastritis. We asked about its frequency in graded gastritis cases. Lymphocytic infiltration in gastric biopsies was graded according to Wotherspoon in 129 cases. The histologic diagnosis ranged from normal gastric mucosa to suspicious for gastric MALT lymphoma. To search for a monoclonal B-cell population, a semi-nested polymerase chain reaction strategy was used for amplification of rearranged VDJ sequences of the immunoglobulin heavy chain gene. Of 106 evaluable samples, 18 were found to be monoclonal. The detection of a monoclonal B-cell population was strongly associated with the presence of lymphoid follicles. In cases with lymphoid follicles, detection of monoclonality was independent of Wotherspoon grading; there is no significant difference between cases being suspicious for lymphoma and those not. We found B-cell monoclonality to be a more frequent than expected finding in gastritis and to be strongly associated with the presence of lymphoid follicles; thus, its presence is of little significance in patient management.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • B-Lymphocytes / pathology*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Clone Cells
  • DNA / analysis
  • Gastric Mucosa / pathology
  • Gastritis / classification
  • Gastritis / genetics
  • Gastritis / immunology
  • Gastritis / pathology*
  • Gene Rearrangement, B-Lymphocyte, Heavy Chain / genetics
  • Germinal Center / pathology*
  • Helicobacter Infections / genetics
  • Helicobacter Infections / immunology
  • Helicobacter Infections / pathology
  • Helicobacter pylori / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin Variable Region / genetics
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell, Marginal Zone / genetics
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell, Marginal Zone / immunology
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell, Marginal Zone / pathology
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Stomach Neoplasms / genetics
  • Stomach Neoplasms / immunology
  • Stomach Neoplasms / pathology


  • Immunoglobulin Variable Region
  • DNA