Gray zone lymphoma: chromosomal aberrations with immunophenotypic and clinical correlations

Mod Pathol. 2011 Dec;24(12):1586-97. doi: 10.1038/modpathol.2011.116. Epub 2011 Aug 5.


The term gray zone lymphoma has been applied to tumors that demonstrate transitional morphologic and immunophenotypic features between classical Hodgkin's lymphoma and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, especially primary mediastinal large B-cell lymphoma. Histopathological and genetic data are limited for these unusual cases. We analyzed cases of gray zone lymphoma (n=27), mediastinal composite lymphoma (n=3) and mediastinal synchronous/metachronous lymphoma (n=3) by morphology, immunophenotyping and fluorescence in situ hybridization. Mediastinal involvement was assured in 24/33 patients (73%). The patient cohort showed a male predominance (M:F ratio; 20:13) and a median age of 32 years (range, 16-91 years). Patients with mediastinal disease were significantly younger (median age: 29.5 years) than patients presenting without evident mediastinal disease (median age: 55 years). Gains including amplifications in 2p16.1 (REL/BCL11A locus) were observed in 33% of all patients, whereas alterations affecting the JAK2/PDL2 locus in 9p24.1 were present in 55%. Further studies revealed rearrangement of the CIITA locus at 16p13.13 in 8/30 cases (27%) and 7/26 cases (27%) demonstrated gains of 8q24 (MYC). Genetic aberrations involving 2p16.1, 9p24.1 and 8q24 showed a higher incidence in cases with evident mediastinal involvement. However, this was not statistically significant when compared with cases without known mediastinal involvement. Twelve of the 27 cases of gray zone lymphoma were morphologically more reminiscent of classical Hodgkin's lymphoma, whereas the other gray zone lymphomas presented with morphological features more closely resembling large B-cell lymphoma. Both morphological groups of gray zone lymphoma were similarly positive for Cyclin E (75 and 93%) and p63 (50 and 53%, respectively) expression. These findings further support a close relationship between gray zone lymphoma, classical Hodgkin's lymphoma and primary mediastinal large B-cell lymphoma, and suggest that some cases of gray zone lymphoma without mediastinal disease may share similar genetic alterations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis*
  • Chromosome Aberrations*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Hodgkin Disease / classification
  • Hodgkin Disease / genetics*
  • Hodgkin Disease / immunology
  • Hodgkin Disease / pathology
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Immunophenotyping
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Lymphoma / classification
  • Lymphoma / genetics*
  • Lymphoma / immunology
  • Lymphoma / pathology
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse / classification
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse / genetics*
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse / immunology
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse / pathology
  • Male
  • Mediastinal Neoplasms / classification
  • Mediastinal Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Mediastinal Neoplasms / immunology
  • Mediastinal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers, Tumor