Molecular Profiling Provides Evidence of Primary Mediastinal Large B-Cell Lymphoma as a Distinct Entity Related to Classic Hodgkin Lymphoma: Implications for Mediastinal Gray Zone Lymphomas as an Intermediate Form of B-Cell Lymphoma

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Expanding on prior studies that have used molecular profiling to elucidate the heterogeneity of diffuse large B-cell lymphomas (DLBCLs), two recent studies (Rosenwald et al and Savage et al) have characterized a third molecularly distinct subtype of DLBCL, primary mediastinal (thymic) large B-cell lymphoma (PMLBCL). Both groups found distinct gene expression patterns that were able to reliably diagnose PMLBCL and distinguish it from other DLBCLs. Notably, the signature gene expression profile of PMLBCL was more closely related to classic Hodgkin lymphoma (CHL) than other DLBCL subtypes. These studies provide further evidence that PMLBCL and nodular sclerosis CHL may represent related tumors on either ends of a continuum, whose interface includes an intermediate form of disease, mediastinal gray zone (MGZL) lymphoma. MGZLs are tumors that have a transitional morphology and phenotype, combining features of both PMLBCL and nodular sclerosis CHL, and provide a diagnostic challenge to pathologists. These studies provide insights into the biology of PMLBCL and CHL and demonstrate the utility of genomic technologies in defining and diagnosing hematopoietic tumors. The ability to map specific pathologic signal transduction pathways regulating hematopoietic differentiation, proliferation, and apoptosis through genomic or proteomic technologies promises to provide the basis for the development of individualized molecularly targeted therapies for specific tumors.

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