Cutaneous Lymphomatoid Granulomatosis: Correlation of Clinical and Biologic Features

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Lymphomatoid granulomatosis (LYG) is a rare angiocentric and angiodestructive Epstein–Barr virus-associated B-cell lymphoproliferative disorder (EBV-BLPD), varying widely from an indolent process to an aggressive large cell lymphoma. The skin is the extrapulmonary organ most commonly involved in LYG. We studied 32 skin lesions from 20 patients with known pulmonary LYG, using immunohistochemistry, in situ hybridization for EBV, and polymerase chain reaction for the presence of antigen receptor gene rearrangements (IgH and TCR) to better define both the clinicopathologic spectrum and pathogenesis of the cutaneous lesions. We describe two distinct patterns of cutaneous involvement. Multiple erythematous dermal papules and/or subcutaneous nodules, with or without ulceration, were present in 17 patients (85%). These lesions demonstrate a marked angiocentric lymphohistiocytic infiltrate, composed predominantly of CD4-positive T-cells, with a high propensity for involving the subcutaneous tissues, and exhibiting angiodestruction, necrosis, and cytologic atypia. EBV-positive B-cells were detected in the nodules from five patients; clonal immunoglobulin heavy chain gene (IgH) rearrangements were detected by polymerase chain reaction in two patients. Multiple indurated, erythematous to white plaques were present in three patients (15%). The plaque lesions were negative for EBV and clonal IgH gene rearrangements in all cases studied. The clinical course of overall disease was variable, ranging from spontaneous regression without treatment (1 of 13; 7%), resolution with chemo/immunomodulatory therapy (8 of 13; 62%), and progression (4 of 13; 31%). The clinical and histopathologic features of cutaneous LYG are extremely diverse. However, the majority (85%) of the cutaneous lesions mirrors to some extent LYG in the lung, although EBV+ cells are less frequently identified. This subset of cases shows the histopathologic triad of angiodestruction with associated necrosis, panniculitis, and in some cases atypical lymphoid cells. The commonality of the histologic features in this group suggests a common pathophysiologic basis, possibly mediated by cytokines and chemokines induced by EBV. A small percentage of the lesions (15%) presented as indurated and atrophic plaques, and EBV was not identified in the small number of cases studied. The relationship of the plaque-like lesions to LYG remains uncertain. Whereas some cases of LYG regress spontaneously, most require therapy.

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