Background: Flow cytometric detection of T-cell clonality is challenging. The current available methodology for T-cell receptor (TCR) Vβ repertoire evaluation is a complex assay and has limited sensitivity especially for detecting low levels of disease. Therefore, there is an unmet need for a reliable, simple, and rapid assay to identify T-cell clonality. The rearrangement of the TCRB gene involves the random and mutually exclusive expression of one of two constant β chain genes (TRBC1 and TRBC2), analogous to the kappa and lambda gene utilization by B cells.
Methods: Here, we used a single TRBC1 antibody, in conjunction with other T-cell associated markers, to detect T-cell clonality in tissue biopsies and body fluids. A total of 143 tissue/body fluid specimens from 46 patients with a definitive diagnosis of a T-cell neoplasm and 97 patients with no T-cell malignancy were analyzed with a cocktail of monoclonal antibodies including CD2/CD3/CD4/CD5/CD7/CD8/CD45/TCRγδ/TRBC1.
Results: We examined TRBC1 expression on neoplastic T-cell populations identified based on their immunophenotypic aberrancies, and monotypic TRBC1 expression was identified in all 46 known T-cell lymphoma cases. We applied a similar gating strategy to the 97 cases without T-cell neoplasms, and arbitrarily dissected T-cell populations into immunophenotypically distinct subsets; in this group, we found that all cases revealed an expected polytypic TRBC1 expression in all subsets.
Conclusions: Single TRBC1 antibody detection of T-cell clonality by flow cytometry is a simple, rapid, and robust assay that could be routinely utilized in flow cytometric laboratories.
Keywords: T-cell clonality; T-cell neoplasms; TRBC1; flow cytometry.
© 2020 International Clinical Cytometry Society.