Variable expression of leucocyte-common (CD45) antigen in CD30 (Ki1)-positive anaplastic large-cell lymphoma: implications for the differential diagnosis between lymphoid and nonlymphoid malignancies

Hum Pathol. 1990 Jun;21(6):624-9. doi: 10.1016/s0046-8177(96)90009-x.


Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) directed against the leucocyte common (CD45) antigen have been proposed as a useful tool for the differential diagnosis between malignant lymphomas (CD45+) and poorly differentiated nonhemopoietic tumors (CD45-). Thanks to the availability of mAbs directed against fixative-resistant epitopes of the CD45 molecule, this distinction can now easily be made even in routinely processed tissues. However, a small percentage of morphologically poorly defined neoplasms are difficult to diagnose even with the help of immunohistochemistry. The investigators report that 63 out of 165 anaplastic large-cell (ALC) lymphomas did not show any reactivity for the CD45 antigen in paraffin sections. In routine biopsies, the lymphomatous nature of these cases, most of which had been sent for consultation, could be always unequivocally established by demonstrating negativity for cytokeratins (mAb KL1) and clear dot-like and/or surface reactivity with the Ber-H2 mAb, which is directed against a fixative-resistant epitope of the lymphoid cell activation antigen CD30. Strikingly, 54% of the CD45-cases reacted with mAbs directed against fixative-resistant epitopes of the T cell-restricted CD45RO antigen (mAb UCHL1) or the B-restricted molecules CD45RA (mAb 4KB5) and L26 (unclustered). In order to avoid confusion of ALC lymphomas with anaplastic nonlymphoid tumors, pathologists must be aware of the existence of CD30+/CD45- ALC lymphomas, as they can mimic the above-mentioned malignancies both morphologically (due to the sinusoidal growth pattern) and phenotypically (due to the expression of EMA). The investigators conclude that the combined use of mAbs directed against fixative-resistant epitopes of the CD30, CD45RO, CD45RA, and L26 antigens and cytokeratins is essential for the correct diagnosis and treatment of these equivocal cases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / immunology
  • Antigens, Differentiation / immunology*
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / immunology*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Epitopes / immunology
  • Histocompatibility Antigens / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry / methods
  • Keratins / immunology
  • Ki-1 Antigen
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / diagnosis
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / immunology
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / pathology
  • Leukocyte Common Antigens
  • Lymphoma / diagnosis
  • Lymphoma / immunology*
  • Lymphoma / pathology
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse / diagnosis
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse / immunology
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse / pathology
  • Paraffin


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antigens, Differentiation
  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Epitopes
  • Histocompatibility Antigens
  • Ki-1 Antigen
  • Keratins
  • Paraffin
  • Leukocyte Common Antigens