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Immunophenotypic shift of CD4 and CD8 antigen expression in primary cutaneous T-cell lymphomas: a clinicopathologic study of three cases



Primary cutaneous T-cell lymphomas (CTCL) comprise a heterogeneous group of neoplasms with diverse clinical behavior. Mycosis fungoides (MF) is the most common type of CTCL. Immunophenotypical shift during progression of the disease is a rare event and its significance is unknown. We present three primary CTCL cases that showed an immunophenotypical shift and poor prognosis. Conventional hematoxylin/eosin and immunohistochemical-stained sections were examined in all the cases. Molecular analysis for rearrangement of the T-cell receptor (TCR) gene was performed in two cases. One case was classified as MF, while the other two lacked epidermotropism, and were considered primary cutaneous peripheral T-cell lymphoma (PTCL), NOS. Two cases were CD3+/CD4+ and one case was CD3+/CD8+ at diagnosis. The first two patients suffered many relapses and eventually, new CTCL lesions with a CD3+/CD8+ phenotype were observed. Both cases revealed identical clonal TCR rearrangements on the initial and late lesions, supporting the interpretation of a single clonal proliferation with different phenotypes. The third case progressed with skin recurrences and pulmonary lesions with a predominant CD3+/CD4+/CD8− phenotype. All cases manifested poor prognosis and two patients died of lymphoma. Immunophenotypical shift between CD4 and CD8 in CTCL seems to be a rare phenomenon that may be associated with disease progression.