Peripheral T-cell lymphoma with aberrant expression of CD79a and CD20: A diagnostic pitfall

Xu Yao, Julie Teruya-Feldstein, Mark Raffeld, Lynn Sorbara, Elaine S. Jaffe

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107 Scopus citations


Immunohistochemical studies am increasingly used for the routine diagnosis of lymphomas as it is widely accepted that lymphomas of different cell lineages vary in their prognosis and response to therapy. A case of peripheral T-cell lymphoma with aberrant expression of B-cell-associated antigens L-26 (CD20) and mb-1 (CD 79a) is described. The disease pursued an aggressive clinical course, and the patient died of disease 6 weeks after presentation. Immunohistochemical studies demonstrated expression of both T- and B-cell-associated antigens, including CD3, CD8, CD43, TIA-1, CD20, and CD79a. Other markers expressed by the tumor cells included CD56 and S-100. Of interest, βF-1 staining for the β chain of T-cell receptor (TCR) complex was positive in the small admixed T lymphocytes but was negative in the tumor cells, raising the possibility of a γ/δ T-cell lymphoma. Molecular studies by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) demonstrated clonal TCR-γ chain gene rearrangement without evidence for a clonal rearrangement of the immunoglobulin heavy chain gene. PCR for HHV-8 related sequences was negative. Mb-1 is an IgM-associated protein that was thought to be restricted to normal and neoplastic B cells. Although its coexpression has been reported in up to 10% cases of precursor T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma, the coexpression of both CD20 and CD79a has not been described in mature T-cell malignancies. Biphenotypic lymphomas associated with HHV-8 have been reported in immunodeficiency, but no evidence of immune deficiency was identified, and studies for EBV and HHV-8 were negative. This case illustrates that no marker has absolute lineage specificity and that immunophenotypic studies should always be performed with panels of monoclonal antibodies. Moreover, cases with ambiguous phenotypes may require genotypic studies for precise lineage assignment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-110
Number of pages6
JournalModern Pathology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • CD20
  • CD79a
  • Cytotoxic T-cells
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Monoclonal antibodies
  • S-100 protein
  • T-cell lymphoma


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