Determination of the DNA content of the Reed-Sternberg cell of Hodgkin's disease by image analysis
The nature of the Reed Sternberg (RS) cell, the malignant cell of Hodgkin's disease (HD), remains unknown. Cytogenetic studies have yielded ambiguous results regarding the chromosomal profile of this cell. In an attempt to further clarify the ploidy status of the RS cell, we analyzed the DNA content of CD30-positive RS cells and RS cell variants in HD lesions from 32 patients using an image analysis system. A diploid and/or near-diploid (DNA index [DI], 1.0 +/- 0.2) and a tetraploid (2.0 +/- 0.2) RS cell population were identified in 9 and in 11 of the 32 cases examined, respectively. An aneuploid RS cell population was identified in 8 of the 32 cases examined. The remaining four cases contained two RS cell subpopulations with different DNA content, each one representing more than 15% of the total RS cell population. There was no significant correlation between the DNA content of the RS cells and the category of HD. Furthermore, analysis of multiple biopsies of an individual patient taken from different lymphoid organs at the same or different time periods showed a constant DNA profile. Our data indicate that RS cells can express variable DNA content and suggests that multiple subpopulations of RS cells with different DNA content may simultaneously coexist within the same HD lesion in some patients. In addition, the RS cell population within each patient appears to express a specific DNA content profile, possibly representing unique clones. These highly individualized profiles potentially may be useful as markers to follow the clinical course of patients with HD.