Blood Journal
Leading the way in experimental and clinical research in hematology

Characterization of posttransplant lymphomas that express T-cell- associated markers: immunophenotypes, molecular genetics, cytogenetics, and heterotransplantation in severe combined immunodeficient mice

  1. EK Waller,
  2. M Ziemianska,
  3. CD Bangs,
  4. M Cleary,
  5. I Weissman, and
  6. OW Kamel
  1. Division of Oncology, Stanford University Medical Center, CA.


Immunosuppressed individuals are at high risk for the development of hematologic malignancies. The typical lymphomas arising in organ transplant recipients are B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphomas that contain Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) DNA sequences. We investigated the characteristics of posttransplant lymphomas that lacked expression of the usual markers associated with EBV transformation. We describe four large-cell lymphomas seen recently at our institution. Two of these four cases were CD4+, one was CD8+, and in one staining for CD4 and CD8 expression was not performed. One CD4+ lymphoma was a CD30+, EBV- large- cell lymphoma from a 65-year-old kidney transplant recipient, the second was an EBV+ large-cell lymphoma from a 25-year-old heart transplant patient. Two T-cell lymphomas were EBV+ and had clonal T- cell receptor beta gene rearrangements. The other two lymphomas expressed T-cell markers CD4 and CD43, and lacked expression of B-cell markers CD19, CD20, CD21, CD22, CD23, and surface Ig. Both CD4+ lymphomas were tumorigenic after their heterotransplantation into severe combined immunodeficient (SCID) mice. Cytogenetics, immunophenotyping, and genotyping of the secondary tumors from SCID mice showed their clonality and identity with the patients' primary tumors. Novel CD4+ lymphoma cell lines, LH521/4 and LK418/4, were established from tumors that had been passaged in SCID mice. An immunodeficient environment may facilitate the growth of these T-cell or biphenotypic lymphomas; the etiology of their genesis can include transformation with EBV and other, as yet unidentified mechanisms.