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Keywords:

  • dendritic cell neoplasms;
  • histiocytic sarcoma;
  • malignant histiocytosis;
  • Langerhans cell tumour and sarcoma;
  • interdigitating dendritic cell sarcoma;
  • follicular dendritic cell sarcoma;
  • mononuclear-phagocytic system;
  • reticuloendothelial system;
  • dendritic cell;
  • malignant lymphoma;
  • immunohistochemistry

Tumours of histiocytes and accessory dendritic cells: an immunohistochemical approach to classification from the International Lymphoma Study Group based on 61 cases

Neoplasms of histiocytes and dendritic cells are rare, and their phenotypic and biological definition is incomplete. Seeking to identify antigens detectable in paraffin-embedded sections that might allow a more complete, rational immunophenotypic classification of histiocytic/dendritic cell neoplasms, the International Lymphoma Study Group (ILSG) stained 61 tumours of suspected histiocytic/dendritic cell type with a panel of 15 antibodies including those reactive with histiocytes (CD68, lysozyme (LYS)), Langerhans cells (CD1a), follicular dendritic cells (FDC: CD21, CD35) and S100 protein. This analysis revealed that 57 cases (93%) fit into four major immunophenotypic groups (one histiocytic and three dendritic cell types) utilizing six markers: CD68, LYS, CD1a, S100, CD21, and CD35. The four (7%) unclassified cases were further classifiable into the above four groups using additional morphological and ultrastructural features. The four groups then included: (i) histiocytic sarcoma (n=18) with the following phenotype: CD68 (100%), LYS (94%), CD1a (0%), S100 (33%), CD21/35 (0%). The median age was 46 years. Presentation was predominantly extranodal (72%) with high mortality (58% dead of disease (DOD)). Three had systemic involvement consistent with `malignant histiocytosis'; (ii) Langerhans cell tumour (LCT) (n=26) which expressed: CD68 (96%), LYS (42%), CD1a (100%), S100 (100%), CD21/35 (0%). There were two morphological variants: cytologically typical (n=17) designated LCT; and cytologically malignant (n=9) designated Langerhans cell sarcoma (LCS). The LCS were often not easily recognized morphologically as LC-derived, but were diagnosed based on CD1a staining. LCT and LCS differed in median age (33 versus 41 years), male:female ratio (3.7:1 versus 1:2), and death rate (31% versus 50% DOD). Four LCT patients had systemic involvement typical of Letterer–Siwe disease; (iii) follicular dendritic cell tumour/sarcoma (FDCT) (n=13) which expressed: CD68 (54%), LYS (8%), CD1a (0%), S100 (16%), FDC markers CD21/35 (100%), EMA (40%). These patients were adults (median age 65 years) with predominantly localized nodal disease (75%) and low mortality (9% DOD); (iv) interdigitating dendritic cell tumour/sarcoma (IDCT) (n=4) which expressed: CD68 (50%), LYS (25%), CD1a (0%), S100 (100%), CD21/35 (0%). The patients were adults (median 71 years) with localized nodal disease (75%) without mortality (0% DOD). In conclusion, definitive immunophenotypic classification of histiocytic and accessory cell neoplasms into four categories was possible in 93% of the cases using six antigens detected in paraffin-embedded sections. Exceptional cases (7%) were resolvable when added morphological and ultrastructural features were considered. We propose a classification combining immunophenotype and morphology with five categories, including Langerhans cell sarcoma. This simplified scheme is practical for everyday diagnostic use and should provide a framework for additional investigation of these unusual neoplasms.