IRTA1 is selectively expressed in nodal and extranodal marginal zone lymphomas

Brunangelo Falini, Claudio Agostinelli, Barbara Bigerna, Alessandra Pucciarini, Roberta Pacini, Alessia Tabarrini, Flavio Falcinelli, Milena Piccioli, Marco Paulli, Marcello Gambacorta, Maurilio Ponzoni, Enrico Tiacci, Stefano Ascani, Maria Paola Martelli, Riccardo Dalla Favera, Harald Stein, Stefano A. Pileri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims: The aim of this study was to search for a molecule selectively expressed by marginal zone (MZ) lymphomas (MZLs), whose diagnosis is currently based on morphological criteria and negativity for markers detectable in other B-cell lymphomas. Methods and results: Two thousand one hundred and four peripheral lymphomas of various types were immunostained with a monoclonal antibody against immunoglobulin superfamily receptor translocation-associated 1 (IRTA1), which recognizes the equivalents of MZ in human lymphoid tissues other than spleen. IRTA1 expression was restricted to extranodal (93%) and nodal MZLs (73%) and to lymphomas with MZ differentiation. Extranodal MZL cells with the strongest IRTA1 expression were usually located adjacent to epithelia, mimicking the IRTA1 expression pattern of normal and acquired mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT). The cytological features, growth pattern and IRTA1 positivity in nodal MZLs suggest they may derive from IRTA1+ perifollicular B cells or monocytoid B cells detectable in reactive lymph nodes. Double immunostaining for IRTA1/bcl-6 tracked the colonization of B-cell follicles by MZL cells, and showed modulation of their phenotype (e.g. acquisition of bcl-6) during recirculation through germinal centres. MZL cells differentiating into plasma cells usually lost IRTA1. Conclusions: These results further expand our knowledge of the biology of MZLs, and highlight IRTA1 as the first positive marker for MZLs, enabling more accurate diagnosis of these neoplasms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)930-941
Number of pages12
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2012


  • Immunohistochemistry
  • IRTA1
  • Marginal zone lymphomas
  • Monoclonal antibodies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Histology
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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