Phenotypic heterogeneity of human T-cell malignancies: Demonstration by monoclonal antibodies and cytochemical markers
Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse
The present study sought to delineate the phenotypic heterogeneity of the human T-cell malignancies. Twenty T-cell neoplasms were investigated for reactivity with the OKT hybridoma monoclonal antibodies and expression of acid alpha-naphthyl acetate esterase (ANAE), beta-glucuronidase (BG), and acid phosphatase (AP) activity. Twelve cases (Mycosis fungoides, Sezary syndrome, cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia) were OKT3'T4', ie, expressed the phenotype commonly associated with mature T-helper cells. These cases were further divisible into ANAE+BG+ (6 cases), ANAE-BG+ (5 cases), and ANAE-BG- (1 case) phenotypes. In contrast to the 12 OKT3+T4+ cases, the remaining 8 cases showed considerable inter- and intratumor heterogeneity with respect to reactivity with the OKT antibodies. Six of these cases (acute lymphoblastic leukemia, lymphoblastic lymphoma) expressed phenotypes consistent with various intrathymic stages of T-cell differentiation. Five of the latter 6 cases were AP+BG+ANAE-, analogous to the majority of normal cortical thymocytes; an OKT3+T4-T8+T10+ neoplasm was ANAE+, analogous to normal medullary thymocytes. Two cases expressed the previously undescribed OKT3+T4-T8-T10+ phenotype. These studies demonstrate that the T-cell malignancies are divisible into phenotypes which correspond to normal maturational stages of T-cell differentiation and functionally distinct T-cell subsets. Phenotypic analysis of the human T-cell malignancies may provide a basis for understanding their biological heterogeneity and may aid in the identification of transitional stages of T-cell differentiation and minor T-cell subsets.