Bone marrow histology in marginal zone B-cell lymphomas: correlation with clinical parameters and flow cytometry in 120 patients

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Among marginal zone lymphomas (MZLs), bone marrow (BM) involvement features are well established in the splenic marginal zone lymphoma (SMZL); few data are available for extranodal marginal zone lymphoma (EMZL) and nodal marginal zone lymphoma (NMZL).

Patients and methods

Incidence and patterns of histologic BM involvement are studied in 120 MZL patients (48 SMZL, 59 EMZL, 13 NMZL) at onset and during follow-up; relationships between clinical features, BM histology and flow cytometry (FC) are analyzed.


At diagnosis, BM involvement occurs in 90% SMZL, 22% EMZL and 54% NMZL (P < 0.0001); at reevaluation, incidence raises to 96% in SMZL and 34% in EMZL. Concordance between histology and FC is found in 87% of cases; most discordant cases have positive histology but negative FC. SMZL and EMZL show a nodular BM infiltration; the interstitial pattern is frequent in NMZL (P < 0.0001); sinusoidal localization is typical of SMZL, frequent in NMZL and occasional in EMZL (P=0.0001). Stage, leukemic disease, B symptoms, more than one extranodal involved site, splenomegaly, elevated β2-microglobulin, serum monoclonal component, International Prognostic Index (IPI) and age-adjusted IPI are directly related to BM infiltration.


The different prevalence of BM involvement in MZL subtypes reflects their heterogeneous dissemination modalities; histology seems more sensible than FC to detect BM infiltration; development of BM involvement during follow-up is typical of EMZL.

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