Follicular hyperplasia presenting with a marginal zone pattern in a reactive lymph node lesion

A report of six cases


  • Received July 16, 2001.

    Accepted December 6, 2001.

Masaru Kojima, Department of Pathology, and Clinical Laboratories, Gunma Cancer Center Hospital, 617-1, Takabayashinishi-cho Ohta, 373-0828, Gunma, Japan.


Histologically, the marginal zone pattern of the lymph node is characterized by lymphoid follicles with three distinct layers. The inner layer is composed of follicular center zones, the middle layer of darkly stained mantle zones, and the outer layer of marginal zones. However, the marginal zone pattern is rarely seen in reactive lymph nodes except for mesenteric lymph nodes. We describe the clinicopathologic, immunohistochemical and genotypic findings of six cases of reactive follicular hyperplasia exhibiting the marginal zone pattern. The patients comprised three males and three females (age range 24 to 63 years; medium 56 years). Follow-up data were obtained from five patients. None of them developed malignant lymphomas during the follow-up period of from 5 to 204 months (median 68 months). Histologically, the lesion was characterized by numerous lymphoid follicles and partial distortion of lymph node structure. Varying degrees of progressive transformation of the germinal center (PTGC) were noted in the four cases. The marginal zone pattern was observed in some or most of the lymphoid follicles including PTGC. The marginal zone B cells were small to medium-sized lymphocytes with round or slightly indented nuclei and a broad rim of pale cytoplasm. Some of them had a monocytoid appearance. They were CD20+, CD79a+, sIgM+/−, sIgD−, CD5−, CD10−, CD21−, CD23−, CD43−, CD45RO−, Bcl-6−, cyclin D1−, EMA− and p53−. A portion of them were Bcl-2 positive. Occasional large lymphoid cells with round or indented nuclei and moderate amounts of cytoplasm were observed in the marginal zone in four cases. These large lymphoid cells were usually CD20 positive, but Bcl-6 negative. A small number of them contained polytypic intracytoplasmic immunoglobulins. The polytypic nature of B lymphocytes was demonstrated by immunohistochemistry and polymerase chain reaction. Recognition of unusual marginal zone hyperplasia in reactive lymph node lesions is important to avoid confusion with nodal involvement in various low-grade B cell lymphomas presenting a marginal zone distribution pattern.