Internal medicine (Tokyo, Japan) 2017 09 2556(21) 2851-2856 doi 10.2169/internalmedicine.8570-16
Objective It has been postulated that the normal counterpart of angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma (AITL) is the follicular helper T-cell (TFH). Recent immunological studies have identified several transcription factors responsible for T-cell differentiation. The master regulators associated with T-cell, helper T-cell (Th), and TFH differentiation are reportedly BCL11B, Th-POK, and BCL6, respectively. We explored the postulated normal counterpart of AITL with respect to the expression of the master regulators of T-cell differentiation. Methods We performed an immunohistochemical analysis in 15 AITL patients to determine the expression of the master regulators and several surface markers associated with T-cell differentiation. Results BCL11B was detected in 10 patients (67%), and the surface marker of T-cells (CD3) was detected in all patients. Only 2 patients (13%) expressed the marker of naïve T-cells (CD45RA), but all patients expressed the marker of effector T-cells (CD45RO). Nine patients expressed Th-POK (60%), and 7 (47%) expressed a set of surface antigens of Th (CD4-positive and CD8-negative). In addition, BCL6 and the surface markers of TFH (CXCL13, PD-1, and SAP) were detected in 11 (73%), 8 (53%), 14 (93%), and all patients, respectively. Th-POK-positive/BCL6-negative patients showed a significantly shorter overall survival (OS) than the other patients (median OS: 33.0 months vs. 74.0 months, p=0.020; log-rank test). Conclusion Many of the AITL patients analyzed in this study expressed the master regulators of T-cell differentiation. The clarification of the diagnostic significance and pathophysiology based on the expression of these master regulators in AITL is expected in the future.