• B-cell neoplasms;
  • CD19;
  • expression;
  • immunohistochemistry

Aims : To investigate whether an antibody against an intracellular epitope can detect CD19 in routine biopsy specimens and thus to document in detail its expression in human lymphomas.

Method and results : A polyclonal antibody to the C terminus of CD19 was used to immunostain paraffin-embedded samples of normal and neoplastic lymphoid tissues. CD19 was widely expressed in normal B cells and in extramedullary plasma cells. It was found in most B-cell neoplasms, but expression in follicular lymphoma was weak (33/69) or negative (four cases). Similarly, CD19 expression in diffuse large B-cell lymphomas was weak (28/56) or negative (eight cases). In T-cell-rich B-cell lymphomas, CD19 was also weak (4/10) or negative (three cases). CD19 was often absent in post-transplant B lymphoproliferative disease, classical Hodgkin's disease and plasma cell neoplasms. An unexpected finding was the frequent absence of CD19 in the neoplastic cells in lymphocyte predominant Hodgkin's disease.

Conclusions : CD19 can now be detected in routine biopsy specimens. In contrast to the classical pan-B marker CD20, CD19 is not always strongly expressed in B-cell neoplasms. Furthermore, the lymphocytic and histiocytic (L&H) cells of lymphocyte predominant Hodgkin's disease (which express most B-cell-associated markers) commonly lack CD19.