Specificity of the histopathological triad for the diagnosis of toxoplasmic lymphadenitis: Polymerase chain reaction study*

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Toxoplasmosis is a common cause of lymphadenopathy, but toxoplasmic cysts are not usually found in histological sections used for establishing diagnosis, except on extremely rare occasions. The histopathological triad of florid reactive follicular hyperplasia, clusters of epithelioid histiocytes, and focal sinusoidal distention by monocytoid B cells has been considered to be diagnostic of toxoplasmic lymphadenitis, but the validity of the histopathological triad is based indirectly on serological correlation only. The demonstration of Toxoplasma gondii DNA in lymph nodes displaying the histopathological triad will indicate the validity of the histopathological triad as the criterion for the histopathological diagnosis of toxoplasmic lymphadenitis. We used frozen tissues of 12 lymph nodes with the histopathological triad and tissues of 27 lymph nodes from patients with various other conditions (including 13 cases of follicular lymphoid hyperplasia, FLH; three cases of dermatopathic lymphadenopathy, DPL; two cases of plasmacytosis; two cases of Castleman's disease; two cases of metastatic adenocarcinoma; and five cases of lymphoma) to detect T. gondii DNA by polymerase chain reaction. Ten out of 12 lymph nodes with the triad and six out of 27 lymph nodes without the triad were positive for T. gondii DNA. Thus, the sensitivity of the triad was 62.5% (10/16) and the specificity was 91.3% (21/23). The predictive value of positive tests was 83.3% (10/12) and the predictive value of negative tests was 77.7% (21/27). The six cases positive for T. gondii DNA without the triad were four cases of FLH, one case of DPL, and one case of plasmacytosis. None of the neoplastic diseases was positive. The false positive and negative cases could be due to sampling problems or past T. gondii infection. The results confirm that the histopathological triad is highly specific for the diagnosis of toxoplasmic lymphadenitis and can be used confidently.

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