Neurolymphomatosis in follicular lymphoma: an autopsy case report

Neuropathology. 2022 Aug;42(4):295-301. doi: 10.1111/neup.12807. Epub 2022 May 23.


Neurolymphomatosis is a neurological manifestation of lymphoma that involves the cranial or spinal peripheral nerves, nerve roots, and plexus with direct invasion of neoplastic cells. Neurolymphomatosis is rare among patients with low-grade lymphoma. We report an autopsied case of neurolymphomatosis that arose from follicular lymphoma. A 49-year-old woman who presented with pain of her neck and shoulder and numbness of her chin. Computed tomography revealed enlarged lymph nodes in her whole body, and biopsy from the axillary lymph node revealed grade 2 follicular lymphoma. Although the patient underwent chemotherapy, she gradually developed muscle weakness in the upper limbs and sensory disturbances of the trunk and limbs. 18 F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) revealed increased tracer uptake of the cervical nerve roots. Repeated FDG-PET after additional therapy revealed progression of disease within the nerve roots and brachial plexus, whereas gadolinium-contrast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) showed weak enhancement of the cervical nerve roots without formation of mass lesions. She died after a total disease duration of 12 months. Postmortem observations revealed invasion of lymphoma cells into the cervical nerve roots, dorsal root ganglia, and subarachnoid spaces of the spinal cord. Neurolymphomatosis was prominent at the segments of C6-Th2. Combined loss of axons and myelin sheaths was observed in the cervical nerve roots and posterior columns. Lymphoma cells also invaded the cranial nerves. The subarachnoid and perivascular spaces of the brain demonstrated focal invasion of the lymphoma. Mass lesions were not observed in the central nervous system. The lymphoma cells did not show histological transformation to higher grades, and the density of the centroblasts remained at grade 2. Our report clarifies that low-grade follicular lymphoma can manifest as neurolymphomatosis and central nervous system invasion in the absence of transformation toward higher histological grades. FDG-PET may be more sensitive to non-mass-forming lesions, including neurolymphomatosis, than gadolinium-contrast MRI.

Keywords: autopsy; follicular lymphoma; magnetic resonance imaging; neurolymphomatosis; positron emission tomography.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Autopsy
  • Female
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Gadolinium
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma, Follicular*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurolymphomatosis* / pathology


  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Gadolinium