Indolent T-cell lymphoproliferative disorder of the gastrointestinal tract: a tricky diagnosis of a gastric case

Magda Zanelli, Maurizio Zizzo, Francesca Sanguedolce, Giovanni Martino, Alessandra Soriano, Stefano Ricci, Carolina Castro Ruiz, Valerio Annessi, Stefano Ascani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Indolent T-cell lymphoproliferative disorder of the gastrointestinal tract is a rare low-grade clonal lymphoid proliferation, included as a provisional entity in the current World Health Organization classification. The disease is generally localized to the gastrointestinal tract, mainly small bowel and colon. Involvement of other organs is infrequently reported. The majority of patients show a protracted clinical course with persistent disease. A prolonged survival, even without treatment, is common. Case presentation: A 28-year-old woman had a 2-year history of dyspepsia and lactose intolerance. Autoimmune diseases and celiac disease were excluded. No gross lesions were identified by endoscopy. Multiple gastric biopsies showed a small-sized lymphoid infiltrate, expanding the lamina propria, with a non-destructive appearance. The lymphoid cells were positive for CD3, CD4, CD5, CD7 and negative for CD20, CD8, CD56, CD103, PD1, CD30, ALK1, CD10, BCL6, perforin, TIA-1, Granzyme B and Epstein-Barr virus-encoded RNA. KI-67 index was low (5%). Molecular analysis revealed a clonal T-cell receptor γ rearrangement. Bone marrow was microscopically free of disease, but molecular testing identified the same T-cell receptor γ rearrangement present in the gastric biopsies. After the diagnosis of indolent T-cell lymphoproliferative disorder of the gastrointestinal tract, the patient received steroid therapy, only for 2 months. She is alive, with a stable disease restricted to the stomach, at 12 months from diagnosis. Conclusions: Indolent T-cell lymphoproliferative disorder is usually a disease of adulthood (median age: 51 yrs). The small bowel and colon are the sites most commonly involved. Our case occurred in a young woman and affected the stomach, sparing small intestine and colon. Clonality testing identified involvement of bone marrow, a site infrequently affected in this disease. Our aim is focusing on the main diagnostic issues. If appropriate immunostainings and molecular analysis are not performed, the subtle infiltrate may be easily overlooked. The risk of misdiagnosis as more aggressive lymphomas, causing patient overtreatment, needs also to be considered.

Original languageEnglish
Article number336
JournalBMC Gastroenterology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2020


  • Gastrointestinal tract
  • Indolent
  • Lymphoproliferative disorder
  • Stomach
  • T-cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology

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