The "Burkitt-like" immunophenotype and genotype is rarely encountered in diffuse large B cell lymphoma and high-grade B cell lymphoma, NOS

Virchows Arch. 2021 Sep;479(3):575-583. doi: 10.1007/s00428-021-03050-4. Epub 2021 Mar 2.


Burkitt lymphoma (BL) is a B cell lymphoma composed of monomorphic medium-sized blastic cells with basophilic cytoplasm and a high proliferation index. BL has a characteristic immunophenotype of CD10 and BCL6 positive and BCL2 negative and harbours MYC gene rearrangements (MYCR) in >90% of the cases. Owing to its highly aggressive nature, intensified chemotherapy regimens are usually administered, requiring an exact diagnosis. Since the diagnosis usually warrants an integration of morphologic, immunophenotypic and genetic findings and because there is a morphologic overlap with the new WHO category of high-grade B cell lymphoma, not otherwise specified (HGBL, NOS) and some cases of diffuse large B cell lymphoma (DLBCL), we wanted to test the distinctiveness of the CD10+, BCL6+, BCL2- and MYCR positive immunopheno-genotype in a large cohort of >1000 DLBCL and HGBL. Only 9/982 DLBCL classified by an expert panel of haematopathologists (0.9%) displayed a single MYCR and were CD10+, BCL6+ and BCL2-. In a similar fashion, only one out of 32 HGBL, NOS (3%) displayed the "Burkitt-like" genetic/immunophenotypic constitution. The samples of non-BL showing the BL-typic immunopheno-genotype, interestingly, harboured higher copy number variations (CNV) by OncoScan analysis (mean 7.3 CNVs/sample; range: 2-13 vs. 2.4; range 0-6) and were also distinct from pleomorphic BL cases regarding their mutational spectrum by NGS analysis. This implies that the characteristic immunophenotype of BL, in concert with a single MYCR, is uncommon in these aggressive lymphomas, and that this constellation favours BL.

Keywords: Burkitt lymphoma; DLBCL; Genotype; High-grade B cell lymphoma, NOS; Immunophenotype.

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, CD20 / analysis
  • Biomarkers, Tumor* / analysis
  • Biomarkers, Tumor* / genetics
  • Burkitt Lymphoma / genetics*
  • Burkitt Lymphoma / immunology*
  • Burkitt Lymphoma / pathology
  • DNA Copy Number Variations*
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Gene Dosage*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Immunophenotyping
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse / genetics*
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse / immunology*
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse / pathology
  • Mutation*
  • Neoplasm Grading
  • Neprilysin / analysis
  • Phenotype
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / analysis
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-6 / analysis
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-6 / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc / genetics
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Antigens, CD20
  • BCL2 protein, human
  • BCL6 protein, human
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • MYC protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-6
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc
  • Neprilysin