Immunopathology of cutaneous T-cell lymphomas

K. Nasu, J. Said, E. Vonderheid, J. Olerud, D. Sako, M. Kadin

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106 Scopus citations


In this study the authors attempted to establish immunopathologic criteria for the distinction of various T-cell lymphomas affecting the skin. We studied skin specimens from 27 patients with mycosis fungoides (MF) (n = 12), the Sezary syndrome (SS) (n = 6), adult T-cell leukemia (ATL) (n = 4), and nonepidermotropic T-cell lymphoma of large cell (n = 4) and lymphoblastic (n = 1) types. Identification of tumor cells in mixed cell populations and detection of weak expression of surface antigens by tumor cells was facilitated by immunoelectron microscopy. The mature helper T-cell phenotype (T11+ T3+ T4+) was found in 14 of 18 cases of MF/SS. One case of MF had a cytotoxic/suppressor (T4- T8+ 3A1+) phenotype; one with frequent blastic cells showed only weak expression of T4 antigen; 2 cases of SS were T11-. Tumor cells infiltrating the skin expressed 3Al antigen in 44% and cellular activation antigens Ia and/or Tac in 78% of patients with MF/SS. No consistent phenotypic differences were found between ATL cells from ATLV (HTLV) antibody-positive patients and tumor cells of patients with MF/SS who lacked this antibody. In contrast, a group of nonepidermotropic T-cell lymphomas showed phenotypic differences from MF/SS and ATL in all but 1 case. These cases were distinguished by the frequent absence of T3, T4, and Leu 1 antigens in 3 large-cell lymphomas; frequent expression of Ki-1 antigen, a Hodgkin's disease-associated antigen, in 2 cases with RS-like cells; and an immature thymocyte phenotype in lymphoblastic lymphoma. These findings demonstrate that tumor-cell phenotypes can be useful in distinguishing different histologic types of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)436-447
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Pathology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1985
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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