Lymphohistiocytoid mesothelioma: a rare lymphomatoid variant of predominantly sarcomatoid mesothelioma

Ultrastruct Pathol. 1988;12(4):367-84. doi: 10.3109/01913128809064207.


Of 394 "definite" mesotheliomas entered in the Australian Mesothelioma Surveillance Program, three bore a striking resemblance to malignant lymphoma by conventional light microscopy, and each was misinterpreted at some stage as lymphoma. The lymphoma-like morphology was a combined result of intense lymphoplasmacytic infiltration and the histiocytoid appearances of the underlying neoplastic cell population. Immunocytochemical analysis demonstrated cytokeratins coexpressed with vimentin within the tumor cells, whereas immunoreactivity for leukocyte common antigen was confined to the smaller lymphoid cells. Electron microscopy of two cases revealed a polymorphous population of fibrohistiocytic cells resembling those typical of malignant fibrous histiocytoma, admixed with lymphocytes and plasma cells, but sporadic cells expressed mesothelial properties in the form of sinuous villiform processes, intracytoplasmic neolumina lined by microvilli, and intermediate filaments that were aggregated into tonofilament bundles in some cells. The ultrastructural appearances, the localization of the tumors to the pleura, with effusion, and absence of anterior mediastinal mass lesions facilitated exclusion of lymphocyte-rich thymoma. In addition, a history of prior occupational exposure to asbestos was elicited in each instance. There was no apparent response to radiotherapy or chemotherapy, and the patients died at 4, 5, and 8 months after presentation. Our observations suggest that immunocytochemical or ultrastructural evaluation is mandatory for accurate diagnosis of all pleura-based lymphomatoid lesions with a mixed large and small cell pattern.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Asbestos / adverse effects
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lymphoma / immunology
  • Lymphoma / pathology*
  • Lymphoma / ultrastructure
  • Male
  • Mesothelioma / classification
  • Mesothelioma / immunology
  • Mesothelioma / pathology*
  • Mesothelioma / ultrastructure
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Middle Aged
  • Pleural Neoplasms / immunology
  • Pleural Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Pleural Neoplasms / ultrastructure
  • Staining and Labeling
  • T-Lymphocytes


  • Asbestos