T- and T/natural killer-cell lymphomas of the salivary gland: a clinicopathologic, immunohistochemical and molecular study of six cases

Hum Pathol. 1997 Feb;28(2):238-45. doi: 10.1016/s0046-8177(97)90113-1.


Primary salivary gland lymphomas are almost always of B lineage, with most being represented by low grade B-cell lymphoma of mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue. This study characterizes the rare non-B-cell lymphomas of the salivary gland based on an analysis of six cases. All patients were men, with a mean age of 53.5 years. They presented with submandibular or parotid mass, which on histological examination showed extensive interstitial infiltration by small, medium-sized, or large lymphoid cells. There was prominent invasion and expansion of the ducts and acini in five cases. Angioinvasion was evident in two cases. Three cases were of T lineage and were CD56 negative; one of these cases expressed CD30. Three cases showed an immunophenotype of CD2+ CD3(f)- CD3(p)+ CD56+, consistent with T/natural killer (NK) cell lymphoma. In situ hybridization for Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-encoded early nuclear RNA (EBER) showed positive reaction exclusively in the three CD56+ cases. Clonal T-cell populations were shown in two CD56-negative cases by polymerase chain reaction on paraffin sections using primers for the T-cell-receptor (TCR) gamma-chain gene, but not in the other four cases (the three CD56+ cases and one CD56- case). Four patients (two CD56+ and two CD56-) died within 3 years, and two were disease free at 4 and 1.5 years, respectively. This study shows that salivary gland T- or T/NK-cell lymphomas cannot be reliably distinguished from B-cell lymphomas on morphological grounds alone, because both can show prominent lymphoepithelial lesions. It appears that T/NK-cell lymphomas, which are often extranodal in localization and strongly associated with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), show a predilection to involve the salivary glands as well.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antigens, CD / analysis
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Killer Cells, Natural / pathology*
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin
  • Lymphoma, T-Cell / chemistry
  • Lymphoma, T-Cell / pathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / chemistry
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / pathology*


  • Antigens, CD