Follicular lymphoma (FL) is usually a nodal lymphoma expressing CD10, rarely with leukaemic presentation (FL-LP).
We searched for FL-LP in our institution from 2000 to 2018 and characterised the neoplastic cells by flow cytometry, immunohistochemistry and fluorescence in situ hybridization. Thirteen (6.1%) of 212 FL cases were FL-LP, all de novo neoplasms. The leukaemic cells were small in 12 cases and large in one. All had concurrent FL, mostly (92%; 12/13) low-grade. The single case with large leukaemic cells had a concurrent primary splenic low-grade FL and a double-hit large B-cell lymphoma in the marrow.
CD10 was expressed in the leukaemic cells in 38% (5/13) cases by flow cytometry and in 77% (10/13) cases in tumours (p= 0.0471). IGH/BCL2 reciprocal translocation was identified in 85% (11/13) cases. Most patients were treated with chemotherapy. In a median follow-up time of 36 months, nine patients were in complete remission. The 2- and 5-year survival rates were at 100% and 83%, respectively. In this study, we characterised a series of de novo FL-LP in Taiwan. All patients had concurrent nodal and/or tissue tumours, which might suggest that these patients seek medical help too late.
The lower CD10 expression rate by flow cytometry than by immunohistochemistry might be due to different epitopes for these assays. Alternatively, loss of CD10 expression might play a role in the pathogenesis of leukaemic change. The clinical course of FL-LP could be aggressive, but a significant proportion of the patients obtained complete remission with chemotherapy.