How reliable is histologic examination of bone marrow trephine biopsy specimens for the staging of non-Hodgkin lymphoma? A study of hairy cell leukemia and mantle cell lymphoma involvement of the bone marrow trephine specimen by histologic, immunohistochemical, and polymerase chain reaction techniques

Am J Clin Pathol. 1999 Feb;111(2):179-84. doi: 10.1093/ajcp/111.2.179.


Analysis of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) involvement of bone marrow trephine biopsy specimens by morphologic features and immunohistochemistry is often difficult, and the criteria for involvement are ill defined. We compared the morphologic and immunohistochemical analysis of B-cell NHL involvement with immunoglobulin heavy chain gene (IgH) rearrangement analysis by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification of the complementarity determining region 3 (CDR3) in bone marrow biopsy specimens from patients with mantle cell lymphoma (n = 53) or hairy cell leukemia (n = 71). By combing morphologic features and phenotype, 54 specimens were considered positive, 62 negative, and 8 inconclusive. PCR analysis showed clonal IgH rearrangements in 46 positive and 6 inconclusive specimens. No clonal IgH rearrangements were present in 61 negative specimens. The 1 false-positive and most false-negative PCR results were likely due to sampling error or DNA degradation of the fixed tissues. In most cases, bone marrow involvement by NHL can be identified by histologic and immunohistochemical examination. Furthermore, clonality of the B-cell population can be detected by amplification of the IgH CDR3 on DNA extracted from bone marrow trephine biopsy sections, which can be helpful in cases diagnosed as inconclusive.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bone Marrow Examination
  • Bone Marrow Neoplasms / immunology
  • Bone Marrow Neoplasms / pathology*
  • DNA, Neoplasm / analysis
  • Gene Rearrangement*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin Heavy Chains / genetics*
  • Immunoglobulin Variable Region
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Leukemia, Hairy Cell / immunology
  • Leukemia, Hairy Cell / pathology*
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / immunology
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / pathology*
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • DNA, Neoplasm
  • Immunoglobulin Heavy Chains
  • Immunoglobulin Variable Region