Gastrointestinal lymphomas. Immunohistochemical studies on the cell of origin

Am J Surg Pathol. 1985 May;9(5):328-37.


The classification of primary malignant lymphomas of the gastrointestinal tract by their cell of origin has been a subject of great controversy in recent years, with the proportion of histologic subtypes varying substantially in different published series. Much of this controversy was initially due to the widely recognized inherent difficulty of classifying lymphomas based on routine histologic sections alone. However, the advent of immunohistochemical techniques has also yielded disparate results. Particularly contentious has been the notion of true histiocytic lymphomas, which some investigators have claimed to be relatively frequent in the gastrointestinal tract, whereas others doubt whether they exist at all. We present here a classification of 25 gastrointestinal lymphomas seen in the surgical pathology services of UCLA Hospital and Stanford University Medical Center. Unlike all previously reported series, we have utilized frozen tissue sections for the performance of immunohistochemical studies, which we and others have found to be far more reliable than the use of formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissues, particularly in detecting monoclonal surface staining of immunoglobulin light- and heavy-chain markers. We find that this technique lessens the likelihood of overinterpreting the stains for histiocyte markers (alpha 1-antitrypsin and lysozyme), which are often difficult to read owing to strong positive staining of benign reactive histiocytes within the tumor. Utilizing these techniques, we have been able to classify definitely 21 of our 25 lymphomas (84%) as of B-cell origin, whereas none appeared to be histiocytic. We conclude that true histiocytic lymphomas of the gastrointestinal tract must be very rare, and we recommend the routine use of frozen tissue sections for more accurate classification of these interesting lesions.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Burkitt Lymphoma / classification
  • Burkitt Lymphoma / pathology
  • Colonic Neoplasms / classification
  • Colonic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / classification
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Histiocytes / analysis
  • Histiocytes / pathology
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Intestine, Small
  • Lymphoma / classification
  • Lymphoma / pathology*
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / classification
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / pathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Stomach Neoplasms / classification
  • Stomach Neoplasms / pathology