Clonality of B-cells in portal lymphoid infiltrates of HCV-infected livers

J Pathol. 1998 May;185(1):86-90. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1096-9896(199805)185:1<86::AID-PATH59>3.0.CO;2-R.


Evidence has been accumulating in favour of a role for hepatitis C virus (HCV) in the pathogenesis of human lymphoproliferative disorders. HCV infection has been documented in the majority of patients with essential mixed cryoglobulinaemia type II (MC-II); in patients with HCV infection, B-cell clonal expansion have been detected in peripheral blood and bone marrow, and a high prevalence of B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphomas has been documented. Liver biopsies in chronic hepatitis C frequently show portal lymphoid infiltrates with features of B follicles, whose clonality has not yet been investigated. This study has analysed the B-cell clonality of portal lymphoid infiltrates from 16 patients with chronic HCV hepatitis. Portal tracts showing obvious lymphoid infiltrates were microdissected from the paraffin-embedded liver tissue sections and the clonality of lymphoid B-cells was tested using a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) approach designed to identify immunoglobulin heavy chain gene (IgH) rearrangements. A successful IgH-PCR analysis was achieved in 35 lymphoid infiltrates from 11 patients (seven with the four without MC-II) and yielded a single band in 21 cases, two bands in ten cases, and three bands in four cases. Comparison of the IgH-PCR amplification bands obtained from the different lymphoid aggregates of the same biopsy revealed that they differed in size. This finding indicates that each aggregate derives from the proliferation of one or a few founder B-cells, which are not related to each other. The results obtained in patients with and without MC-II were similar, suggesting that the presence of B-cell clonal proliferations in liver biopsies is independent of the occurrence of B-cells producing monoclonal IgMk cryoglobulins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • B-Lymphocytes / pathology
  • Cell Division
  • Clone Cells
  • Cryoglobulinemia / complications
  • Cryoglobulinemia / immunology
  • Gene Rearrangement, B-Lymphocyte, Heavy Chain
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / complications
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / immunology*
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / pathology
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Liver / immunology*
  • Liver / pathology
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction