Critical evaluation of Bcl-6 protein expression in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma of the stomach and small intestine

Mi Seon Kwon, Jai Hyang Go, Jong Sun Choi, Seung Sook Lee, Young H. Ko, Jong Chul Rhee, Howe J. Ree

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17 Scopus citations


Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) of the gastrointestinal tract is heterogeneous, including mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) origin and non-MALT, and they are indistinguishable. MALT lymphoma is a tumor of a postgerminal center (GC) memory B-cell origin, which is negative for Bcl-6 protein expression in low-grade but may become positive in high-grade tumors. Because Bcl-6 expression patterns in lymphoma of GC and non-GC B-cell origins have recently been characterized and CD10 is generally regarded as a specific marker for GC B cells, we critically evaluated gastric and small intestinal DLBCLs to see whether it is possible to identify tumor of GC B-cell origin by immunostaining in archival specimens. High-grade MALT lymphoma (H-ML) of the stomach (n = 20) was defined by the presence of a concomitant lymphoepithelial lesion and/or follicular colonization; and DLBCLs de novo, both gastric (n = 31) and intestinal (n = 21), were defined by the absence of the above features. Immunostaining for Bcl-6 and CD10 was done using formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded sections and was examined independently by three pathologists. Staining for Bcl-6 was positive (>10% of tumor cells) in 55 of 72 cases. However, two distinct patterns were recognized among those positive: diffusely dense (>75%) and sporadic (<75%). The former was further characterized by a consistency of Bcl-6+ tumor cell density at any given area, resembling the staining pattern of the GC of follicular lymphoma (FL) (GC/FL pattern), whereas the latter was, besides less dense population, by variable density from area to area. The GC/FL pattern was observed in 36% and 38% of gastric and intestinal DLBCLs de novo, respectively, but in none of the gastric H-ML. CD10 was positive in 12 of 71 cases (17%), all coexpressing Bcl-6. CD10+ tumors were more frequent in the intestinal (33%) than in gastric DLBCLs (∼15%). Significantly, CD10 expression was observed in three gastric H-MLs, including one that displayed a distinct lymphoepithelial lesion. In conclusion: 1) tumors showing a diffusely dense pattern of Bcl-6 expression should be distinguished from those showing a sporadic pattern; for the former most likely represents the tumor of GC B-cell derivation, and the latter non-GC, including MALT lymphoma; 2) tumor of GC B-cell origin thus defined accounted for about one third of gastric as well as intestinal DLBCLs de novo but none of the gastric H-ML; and 3) CD10 expression can be seen in MALT lymphomas and should not be used as the marker for GC B cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)790-798
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Surgical Pathology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Bcl-6 expression
  • CD10
  • Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma
  • Gastrointestinal lymphoma
  • Germinal center B cells


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