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Acute viral lymphadenitis mimicking low-grade peripheral T-cell lymphoma A clinicopathological study of nine cases

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Acute viral lymphadenitis, especially infectious mononucleosis (IM), often shows the presence of Reed-Sternberg-like cells, resulting in confusion with Hodgkin’s disease. However, acute viral lymphadenitis requiring differential diagnosis from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is not widely recognized. We describe the clinicopathological and immunohistochemical features of lymph node lesions from nine such patients which pose serious problems of differential diagnosis from low-grade peripheral T-cell lymphoma. There were three males and six females with ages ranging from 21 to 44 years (median 25 years). All patients had “B” symptoms and multicentric lymphadenopathy. The clinical course was also self-limiting. Each lymph node specimen showed an obvious expansion of an interfollicular area by pleomorphic and polymorphous infiltration with an increased number of arborizing postcapillary venules. The infiltrate was composed of variable numbers of small and medium-sized lymphocytes, immunoblasts, plasma cells in various stage of maturation and occasional granulocytes. The small lymphocytes usually had regular round nuclei, whereas the medium-sized lymphocytes occasionally showed nuclear pleomorphism. Hyperreactivity of B-lymphocytes, including hyperplastic germinal centers and/or foci of monocytoid B-cells, was seen in parts of the lesion. The majority of the interfollicular T-lymphocytes, including T-immunoblasts, expressed CD8 antigen. Various numbers of TIA-1-positive small and medium-sized T-cells were observed in the paracortical area. Despite these findings, the overall histological picture of this series posed serious difficulties when differentially diagnosing this condition from low-grade peripheral T-cell lymphomas such as angioimmunoblastic T-cell (AILD) and T-zone types, indicating that viral lymphadenitis occasionally presents with histological features of AILD and T-zone lymphomas. To avoid overdiagnosis and overtreatment, we emphasize the need to pay careful attention to the clinical and laboratory findings as well as the morphological features.

Keywords: Epstein-Barr virus; T-zone lymphoma; Viral lymphadenitis; angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma; follicular hyperplasia; monocytoid B-cells

Document Type: Original Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Pathology, Dokkyo University School of Medicine, Mibu, 2: Department of Pathology and Genetics, Aichi Cancer Center Hospital, Nagoya, 3: Department of Pathology and Clinical Laboratories, Maebashi Red Cross Hospital, Maebashi, and 4: Department of Pathology and Clinical Laboratories, Kiryu Welfare General Hospital, Kiryu, Japan

Publication date: 2001-06-01

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