Utility of BCL2, PD1, and CD25 immunohistochemical expression in the diagnosis of T-cell lymphomas

Appl Immunohistochem Mol Morphol. 2014;22(2):99-104. doi: 10.1097/PAI.0b013e31828ef1f7.


T-cell lymphomas (TCLs) are a heterogenous group of diseases that show histologic and immunophenotypic features overlapping with reactive lymphoid proliferations and often require the use of ancillary testing for accurate diagnosis. The oncoprotein, bcl-2, is expressed in various types of lymphoma. At present, expression of this protein is useful for distinguishing several B-cell lymphomas. Although there are some anecdotal reports that the lack of bcl-2 expression by T cells might also be a useful marker for the diagnosis of TCL, there are no focused studies to address this hypothesis. Another antigen with value in TCL diagnosis is programmed death-1 (PD-1), a marker of follicular helper T cells, which has been reported to be sensitive in the detection of angioimmunoblastic TCL and peripheral T-cell lymphoma, unclassified. However, several reports have also shown that PD-1-positive cells may be increased in a number of settings other than TCL, including reactive and atypical lymphadenopathies. Finally, lymphoma cells express a variety of cytokine receptors and signaling molecules that are current or potential targets for immunomodulatory therapy. One such target is the interleukin (IL)-2 receptor (CD25), which is acted on by denileukin diftitox/ONTAK, a recombinant diphtheria toxin-IL-2 fusion protein. Selection of suitable patients for therapy often includes pretreatment assessment of CD25 expression in tumor cells. In order to further assess the diagnostic and therapeutic utility of these antigens, we compared the expression of the CD25, PD-1, and bcl-2 in 119 cases of T-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma using immunohistochemical techniques applied to routinely processed and paraffin-embedded tissues. We show that lack of expression of bcl-2 was observed in 52% cases of TCL and may aid in identification of neoplastic T-cell populations. In combination, bcl-2, CD25, and PD-1 provide diagnostic utility and may aid in selecting appropriate patients for immunomodulatory therapy.

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Diphtheria Toxin / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Interleukin-2 / metabolism
  • Interleukin-2 Receptor alpha Subunit / metabolism*
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell / diagnosis*
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell / pathology
  • Lymphoma, T-Cell / diagnosis*
  • Lymphoma, T-Cell / pathology
  • Programmed Cell Death 1 Receptor / metabolism*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / metabolism*
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Diphtheria Toxin
  • Interleukin-2
  • Interleukin-2 Receptor alpha Subunit
  • PDCD1 protein, human
  • Programmed Cell Death 1 Receptor
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • denileukin diftitox