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

Patterns of cytokine gene expression in peripheral T-cell lymphoma of angioimmunoblastic lymphadenopathy type

  1. HD Foss,
  2. I Anagnostopoulos,
  3. H Herbst,
  4. M Grebe,
  5. K Ziemann,
  6. M Hummel, and
  7. H Stein
  1. Konsultations- und Referenzzentrum fur Lymphknoten und Hamatopathologie, Institute of Pathology, Klinikum Benjamin Franklin, Free University of Berlin, Germany.


Peripheral T-cell lymphoma of angioimmunoblastic lymph-adenopathy type (AILD-TCL) is histologically characterized by a mixed infiltrate of atypical T-cells, B-cells including B immunoblasts, and plasma cells, as well as eosinophilic granulocytes accompanied by proliferated high endothelial venules, while, clinically, fever and weight loss are often observed. These morphologic and clinical pecularities are widely believed to reflect abnormal patterns of cytokine expression. To evaluate this hypothesis, 11 lymph nodes with AILD-TCL were studied for the presence of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF), lymphotoxin (LT), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and IL-1 beta transcripts by in situ hybridization (ISH) using [35S]-labeled cytokine-specific RNA probes in seven cases subsequent to immunohistology for cell type characteristic antigens. Expression of all four cytokines was strongly enhanced in AILD-TCL when compared with the control groups of lymphoblastic lymphomas and peripheral T-cell lymphomas, other than AILD-TCL. TNF and LT transcripts were present in atypical T cells and in a variable proportion of B immunoblasts in all AILD-TCL cases, whereas IL-6 and IL-1 beta specific transcripts were mainly found in nonlymphoid cells. To verify a possible cytokine expression by Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-infected cells, which are frequently present in AILD-TCL, the detection of EBV-encoded nuclear RNAs (EBER) was combined with ISH for cytokine transcripts. It became evident that expression of LT and TNF by EBV-infected cells was largely restricted to B immunoblasts, which were only infrequently present in most AILD-TCL cases, whereas the expression of IL-6 was very rare, and IL-1 beta was not found in EBV-infected cells. These data suggest that expression of TNF and LT genes may contribute to the characteristic histologic and clinical features of AILD-TCL and that cytokine expression by EBV-infected cells does not, in most cases, contribute significantly to the overall cytokine expression. Because it has been shown that LT is an autocrine growth factor for EBV-infected B cells, expression of this cytokine could contribute to the proliferation of EBV-infected B cells in AILD-TCL and, in the setting of immunosuppression, may ultimately play a role in the development of B-immunoblastic lymphomas.