Floral Variant of Follicular Lymphoma: Immunological and Molecular Studies Support a Neoplastic Process

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Abstract

In recent reports of the so-called “floral variant” of follicular lymphoma, an unusual variant of follicular lymphoma mimicking progressive transformation of germinal centers, questions have been raised regarding whether this process represents a malignant lymphoma. We studied 19 examples of the floral variant of follicular lymphoma and report our light microscopic, immunohisto-chemical, and molecular diagnostic findings. Morphologic changes consisted of effacement of normal lymph node architecture by follicles composed of atypical lymphocytes. The follicles were surrounded by prominent mantle zones that invaginated irregularly into the follicle centers, often imparting a “floral” appearance. Sufficient material was available for immunophenotypic or genotypic studies in 15 biopsies. Twelve of 15 cases studied by immunohistochemistry demonstrated phenotypes supporting a diagnosis of lymphoma. Five demonstrated light-chain restriction; one was an immunoglobulin-negative B-cell neoplasm; and six, in which only formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue was available, demonstrated overexpression of the bcl-2 protein. Southern blot analysis revealed evidence of clonal immunoglobulin heavy-chain gene rearrangement in all five cases tested. Overall, 12 of the 15 biopsies studied with these techniques showed immunologic or genotypic support for malignant lymphoma. The results of this study demonstrate that the floral variant of follicular lymphoma does indeed represent a malignant lymphoma.

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