IgD Positive L&H Cells Identify a Unique Subset of Nodular Lymphocyte Predominant Hodgkin Lymphoma

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Nodular lymphocyte predominant Hodgkin lymphoma (NLPHL) is a rare B-cell lymphoma considered to be of germinal center (GC) derivation. Studies on immunoglobulin expression have been few, and post-switch immunoglobulin (IgG) has been identified in the majority of cases examined thus far. We reviewed 180 cases of NLPHL and observed the unexpected expression of IgD in 27% of cases. IgD is usually coexpressed with IgM in naive B cells but can also be seen as IgD-only in centroblasts (CD38-positive) or memory B cells (CD27-positive). We asked whether IgD-positive NLPHL differed from cases of NLPHL negative for IgD. Clinically, the IgD-positive cases presented at a younger median age (21 vs. 44 years) and had a striking male predominance (male-to-female ratio, 23:1 vs. 1.5:1). Cervical lymph nodes were more frequently involved (56% vs. 18.2%). L&H cells were localized in a predominantly extrafollicular distribution in the majority of IgD-positive cases (69%). The IgD-positive cases did not coexpress IgM or CD27 (a marker associated with memory B cells), and nearly all (93%) were weakly positive for CD38, supporting a GC derivation. The expression of Bcl-6, BOB.1, Oct2, and SWAP-70 was similar in the two groups. However, PU.1 expression was seen in 60% of the IgD-positive cases in contrast to 86% of the IgD-negative cases. The absence of PU.1 staining correlated with more L&H cells in an extrafollicular distribution, weakening the use of this marker in the differential diagnosis with T-cell rich/histiocyte rich B-cell lymphomas. To study IgD expression in “de-novo” T-cell rich/histiocyte rich B-cell lymphomas, we analyzed 20 cases and all but one were negative. In conclusion, cases of IgD-positive NLPHL do not differ from IgD-negative cases regarding cellular derivation and most other immunophenotypic characteristics. However, IgD-positive NLPHL exhibits distinctive clinical features, and more often involves the interfollicular region in a background relatively rich in T cells. IgD positivity may represent an additional useful marker in the diagnosis of NLPHL.

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