Data on 23 patients with low-grade non-Hodgkin lymphomas (NHLs), 4 mantle (MT), 4 marginal zone (MZ), and 15 follicular (FL), were analyzed and compared with 10 high-risk (HR) B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemias (B-CLLs) with lymph node involvement and 4 diffuse large-cell lymphomas (DLCLs). A significant increase in circulating Vδ1 T lymphocytes producing interleukin-4 (IL-4) was found in patients with FL, MT, and MZ NHL, at variance with DLCL and HR B-CLL. IL-4 was also detectable in the sera and lymph nodes of the same patients. In 19 of the 23 patients with NHL with increased circulating Vδ1 T lymphocytes, B cells expressing the UL-16-binding proteins (ULBPs) ULBP2 or ULBP3 or both were found in peripheral blood, bone marrow, or lymph nodes. Of note, in HR B-CLL or in DLCL, where leukemic cells were negative for ULBPs, no Vδ1 T-cell increase was found. Moreover, Vδ1 T lymphocytes from patients with FL NHL proliferate in response to ULBP2+ and ULBP3 + lymphoma cells. Finally, patients with high expression of ULBPs, increased circulating Vδ1 T lymphocytes, and high levels of serum IL-4 showed stable disease in a 1-year follow-up in contrast to patients with low circulating Vδ1 T cells and undetectable IL-4 or ULBPs.
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