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

ALK gene products in anaplastic large cell lymphomas and Hodgkin's disease

  1. H Herbst,
  2. J Anagnostopoulos,
  3. B Heinze,
  4. H Durkop,
  5. M Hummel, and
  6. H Stein
  1. Konsultations-und Referenzzentrum fur Lymphknoten-und Hamatopathologie am Institut fur Pathologie, Klinikum Benjamin Franklin, Freie Universitat Berlin, Germany.


The translocation t(2;5)(p23;q35), discovered in CD30+ anaplastic large cell (ALC) lymphomas, creates a potentially oncogenic fusion gene, part of which is contributed by a novel tyrosine kinase, ALK. Absence of ALK expression from normal hematolymphoid cells provides a basis for the morphologic assessment of t(2;5). The distribution of the t(2;5) in ALC lymphomas and Hodgkin's disease (HD), as assayed by nonmorphologic methods, is controversial. We used in situ hybridization and/or immunohistology to show ALK gene products in 85 ALC lymphomas, 82 HD cases, 40 other lymphoproliferations, as well as in 6 HD- and 4 ALC lymphoma-derived cell lines. ALK gene products were restricted to t(2;5)-positive ALC lymphoma cell lines and tumor cells of 16 primary non-B cell, common-type ALC lymphomas. These were mainly from young patients with initial lymphonodal disease. ALK expression was not detectable in any other specimen, including all cases of HD and HD-like type ALC lymphoma as well as secondary ALC lymphomas. Full congruence was noted for labeling results obtained with both methods. In agreement with cytogenetic analyses, but at variance with recently published studies, ALK gene expression distinguishes a subset of ALC lymphomas from other CD30+ lymphomas, including HD. The results do not support concepts attributing a significant role to the t(2;5) in the development of HD.