Mitotic Index Determined by Phosphohistone H3 Immunohistochemistry for Precise Grading in Follicular Lymphoma

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The World Health Organization classification recommends follicular lymphoma (FL) grading (G1-3) by considering centroblast number, while also suggesting its influence on disease outcome. As centroblast counting and other proliferation markers have limitations, we looked for more specific measures of cellular activity in FL. Phosphorylated histone H3 (pHH3) was widely applied for the objective detection of mitotic activity in different tumors. The aim was to evaluate the utility of pHH3 protein in FL grading and compare its value with the classical features of cell proliferation. Representative samples from 48 FL patients and 9 samples with follicular hyperplasia were examined. Hematoxylin-eosin–based mitosis index (HE-MI), number of mitotic figures based on anti-pHH3 immunohistochemical staining (pHH3-MI), and percentage of Ki-67-positive cells [proliferation index (PI)] were determined and compared with centroblast-based histologic grade. PHH3-MI showed significant correlation with HE-MI (r=0.85, P<0.0001) and PI (r=0.84, P<0.0001). All 3 cell proliferation parameters showed significant correlation with histologic grade: HE-MI versus grade, r=0.85 (P<0.0001); PI versus grade, r=0.74 (P<0.0001); pHH3-MI versus grade, r=0.80 (P<0.0001). PHH3-MI showed continuous increase with the histologic grade. The pHH3-MI value was distinctive between the G2 and the G1 FL groups (P<0.0001) and was increased in G3 FL compared with that in the G2 FL group (P=0.0020). In conclusion, easy-to-perform mitotic counting following phosphohistone H3 immunohistochemistry (pHH3-MI) correlates well with centroblast-based grading. PHH3 immunohistochemistry offers a reliable quantification tool supporting lymphoma grading and can be recommended as an additional parameter for the precise subcategorization of FL cases.

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