Follicular dendritic cell tumors of the oral cavity

Am J Surg Pathol. 1994 Feb;18(2):148-57. doi: 10.1097/00000478-199402000-00004.


Follicular dendritic cell tumors are uncommon, and all the reported cases have occurred as primary lymph node tumors. We report two cases in the oral cavity, one in the soft palate and one in the tonsil. The tumors were characterized by sheets, whorls, and storiform arrays of spindly and syncytial-appearing cells with oval nuclei, fine chromatin, distinct nucleoli, and occasional nuclear pseudoinclusions. Multinucleated forms were present and were prominent in one case. An unusual feature was the presence of irregular pseudovascular spaces, which could raise a concern for vascular neoplasm. Because the tumors showed cohesive growth and a sharp interface with the fibrous stroma, they could also be mistaken for carcinoma, sarcoma, or melanoma. After radiation therapy, the palatal tumor showed a greater degree of nuclear pleomorphism, numerous nuclear pseudoinclusions, and striking nuclear grooving and foldings, mimicking interdigitating reticulum cell tumors. The diagnosis in both cases was confirmed by immunoreactivity with CD21 and CD35 and by ultrastructural demonstration of interdigitating cell processes with desmosomes. Both tumors also showed unexpected immunoreactivity with muscle-specific actin. Follicular dendritic cell tumor merits wider recognition of its possible extranodal occurrence as well as its full morphological spectrum in order to better define its behavior.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Dendritic Cells / pathology*
  • Dendritic Cells / ultrastructure
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Middle Aged
  • Palatal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Palatal Neoplasms / ultrastructure
  • Tonsillar Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Tonsillar Neoplasms / ultrastructure