Routine application of polymerase chain reaction in the diagnosis of monoclonality of B-cell lymphoid proliferations

Diagn Mol Pathol. 1995 Mar;4(1):14-24. doi: 10.1097/00019606-199503000-00005.


We evaluated four polymerase chain reaction (PCR) methods for their efficiency in detecting monoclonality in a well-characterized panel of frozen and paraffin-embedded B-cell lymphoid proliferations. These approaches (referred to as FR3, FR3A, FR2, and FR1) are based on amplification of rearranged immunoglobulin heavy chain genes, using primers recognizing framework regions I, II, or III. FR3, FR3A and FR2 approaches reproducibly detected monoclonality in 51%, 72%, and 67% of DNAs from frozen lymphomas, respectively. No false-positives were observed. The combination of FR2 and FR3A methods raised the figure to 85%. Comparable results were obtained using paraffin-embedded lymphomas. Reproducibility of FR1 approach was unsatisfactory. The efficiency of all PCR approaches varied depending on lymphoma type. The highest detection rate was in small/intermediate cell and the lowest in centro-follicular lymphomas. Limiting dilution assays showed that PCR methods were able to detect monoclonal B-cell DNA representing 5% of nonlymphoid and 20% of polyclonal B-cell DNA. A diagnostic protocol may include quick and cost-effective PCR screening, particularly in cases of undetermined small cell lymphoid proliferations observed in fine needle aspirates or endoscopic biopsies. This would also reduce call-up of patients to obtain unfixed biopsies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Clone Cells
  • Frozen Sections
  • Gene Rearrangement, B-Lymphocyte, Heavy Chain / genetics
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell / genetics*
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell / immunology
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell / pathology*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Paraffin Embedding
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods