Emergence of a B-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma in a patient with B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia: Evidence for the single-cell origin of the two tumors

V. Pistoia, S. Roncella, P. F. Di Celle, M. Sessarego, G. Cutrona, G. Cerruti, G. P. Boccaccio, C. E. Grossi, R. Foa, M. Ferrarini

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Abstract

A patient is described who presented with a chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and later developed a lymphoblastic lymphoma. The cells from the CLL were typical mature B lymphocytes as could be assessed by morphologic, cytochemical, and surface marker analyses. The cells from the lymphoblastic lymphoma were immature B cells that expressed CD10, CD20, and HLA-DR markers, but not surface Ig or cytoplasmic μ chains, and were negative for terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase (TdT). The cells of two continuous cell lines, obtained from the bone marrow and the peripheral blood of the patient, had the same phenotype as the lymphoblastic lymphoma cells, did not contain the Epstein-Barr virus genome, and displayed malignant features in vitro, including the capacity to form colonies in agar. The two cell lines also shared identical chromosomal abnormalities, a finding which suggests that they derived the same malignant cell already present in vivo. Such chromosomal abnormalities were not seen in the karyotype of the peripheral blood cells at the onset of the disease. Analysis of the Ig heavy chain genes using a DJ-specific probe showed the very same monoclonal rearrangement in the cells from the B-CLL, the lymphoblastic lymphoma and the two cell lines, thus demonstrating their common clonal origin. By contrast, a monoclonal rearrangement of the λ chain gene locus was found in the B-CLL cells only, a finding consistent with their exclusive capacity to express surface IgM λ. This patient represents a rare case in whom a chronic lymphoproliferative disorder with mature malignant cells transforms into a lymphoblastic lymphoma characterized by cells frozen at a very early maturational stage. The possible mechanisms leading to such transformation within the same cell clone are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)797-804
Number of pages8
JournalBlood
Volume78
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology

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    Pistoia, V., Roncella, S., Di Celle, P. F., Sessarego, M., Cutrona, G., Cerruti, G., Boccaccio, G. P., Grossi, C. E., Foa, R., & Ferrarini, M. (1991). Emergence of a B-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma in a patient with B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia: Evidence for the single-cell origin of the two tumors. Blood, 78(3), 797-804.