Mediastinal gray zone lymphoma: the missing link between classic Hodgkin's lymphoma and mediastinal large B-cell lymphoma

Am J Surg Pathol. 2005 Nov;29(11):1411-21. doi: 10.1097/01.pas.0000180856.74572.73.


In recent years, overlap in biologic and morphologic features has been identified between classic Hodgkin lymphoma (cHL) and B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Nevertheless, the therapeutic approaches for these diseases remain different. We undertook a study of "mediastinal gray zone lymphomas" (MGZL), with features transitional between cHL nodular sclerosis (NS) and primary mediastinal large B-cell lymphoma (MLBCL) to better understand the morphologic and immunophenotypic spectrum of such cases. Twenty-one MGZL cases were identified over a 20-year period. We also studied 6 cases of composite or synchronous lymphoma with two distinct components at the same time (cHL-NS and MLBCL) and 9 sequential cases with MLBCL and cHL-NS at different times. All patients had a large mediastinal mass. Immunohistochemical studies focused on markers known to discriminate between cHL and MLBCL, including B-cell transcription factors. VJ-PCR was performed in 8 cases to look at clonality of the immunoglobulin heavy chain gene (IgH). Of the gray zone cases, 11 had morphology reminiscent of cHL-NS, but with unusual features, including a large number of mononuclear variants, diminished inflammatory background, absence of classic Hodgkin phenotype, and strong CD20 expression (11 of 11). Ten cases had morphology of MLBCL, but with admixed Hodgkin/Reed-Sternberg and lacunar cells, absent (3 of 10) or weak (7 of 10) CD20 expression, and positivity for CD15 in 7 cases. B-cell transcription factor expression in the gray zone cases more closely resembled MLBCL than cHL with expression of Pax5, Oct2, and BOB.1 in all but 1 case studied (14 of 15). MAL staining was found in 7 of 10 MGZL, and in at least one component of 6 of 7 evaluable composite or sequential MLBCL/cHL cases. Two cases of sequential lymphoma showed rearrangements of the IgH gene of identical size: one in which MLBCL was the first diagnosis and one in which MLBCL was diagnosed at relapse, indicating clonal identity for the two components of cHL and MLBCL. There is accumulating evidence that MLBCL and cHL are related entities. Further support for a relationship between MLBCL and cHL-NS is provided by composite and metachronous lymphomas in the same patient, as well as the existence of MGZL with transitional morphology and phenotype.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Hodgkin Disease / genetics
  • Hodgkin Disease / immunology
  • Hodgkin Disease / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell / genetics
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell / immunology
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell / pathology*
  • Male
  • Mediastinal Neoplasms / genetics
  • Mediastinal Neoplasms / immunology
  • Mediastinal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Middle Aged