Relationship between hairy cell leukemia variant and splenic lymphoma with villous lymphocytes: presentation of a new concept

Am J Hematol. 1996 Apr;51(4):282-8. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1096-8652(199604)51:4<282::AID-AJH6>3.0.CO;2-S.


An unusual case of low-grade B-cell lymphoproliferative disorder with peripheral lymphocytosis and splenomegaly followed for 4 1/2 years is reported. During this period, the phenotype of the tumor cells in the blood changed from that of hairy cell leukemia (HCL)/chronic lymphocyte leukemia (CLL) to HCL/prolymphocytic leukemia (PLL), to PLL. The lymphoid population in the blood showed a mixture of hairy cells, villous lymphocytes, small lymphocytes, and prolymphocytes, corresponding to the phenotypes at various stages. Although relatively specific markers for CLL, HCL, and PLL, such as CD5, CD11c, CD22, CD25, and FMC-7, were positive at various stages, all these markers have also been demonstrated in a large study series of splenic lymphoma with villous lymphocytes (SLVL). In addition, the histologic pattern of the bone marrow biopsy and splenectomy specimen were not typical for HCL. This case can therefore be classified either as HCL variant or as SLVL. As SLVL assumes various cytologic and histologic patterns, which overlap with different lymphoproliferative disorders, especially HCL variants, this entity appears to represent a heterogeneous group of lymphomas/leukemias that may evolve into each other. The absence of activation of c-myc and bc1-2 oncogenes as well as mutation of p53 tumor suppressor gene, together with the presence of only one single rearranged band for both heavy chain and kappa light chain genes in our case suggest that these morphologically different lymphoid tumors may belong to the same family.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, CD / analysis
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / analysis
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis
  • Bone Marrow / pathology
  • DNA, Neoplasm / genetics
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Gene Rearrangement, B-Lymphocyte, Heavy Chain
  • Gene Rearrangement, B-Lymphocyte, Light Chain
  • Humans
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Leukemia, Hairy Cell / blood
  • Leukemia, Hairy Cell / diagnosis
  • Leukemia, Hairy Cell / genetics
  • Leukemia, Hairy Cell / pathology*
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell / blood
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell / diagnosis
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell / genetics
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell / pathology*
  • Lymphoproliferative Disorders / classification*
  • Lymphoproliferative Disorders / pathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / ultrastructure
  • Oncogenes
  • Splenectomy
  • Splenic Neoplasms / blood
  • Splenic Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Splenic Neoplasms / genetics
  • Splenic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Splenomegaly / etiology
  • Splenomegaly / surgery


  • Antigens, CD
  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • DNA, Neoplasm