Persistent polyclonal B-cell lymphocytosis (PPBL) is a rare and still poorly understood entity, with 90% of cases occurring in female smokers. Patients often appear tired and in pain, but the clinical symptoms remain imprecise. The main risk is the development of lymphoma in some cases. To better understand the characteristics of the fatigue associated with PPBL and study its relationship with systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID), we analyzed the symptoms in a cohort of patients with PPBL included in the French national registry.
An anonymous questionnaire following the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine/National Academy of Medicine for screening of the new SEID criteria was created in French and mailed to 50 patients.
Thirty-nine (78%) contacted patients responded. The studied population was mainly constituted of women (90%) with an average age of 50 (18-59) years. Smoking was a constant factor in all patients. A total of 28/39 (72%) respondents met the SEID symptoms criteria. Severe chronic fatigue for more than 6 months was noted in 36/39 cases (92%). Unrefreshing sleep, post-exertional malaise, cognitive impairment, and orthostatic intolerance were described in 30/39 (77%), 32/39 (82%), 28/39 (72%), and 27/39 (69%) cases, respectively. Pain (arthralgia, myalgia, headache) was present in 26/39 (67%) cases. The most prominent SEID symptoms were fatigue, followed by post-exercise discomfort and cognitive difficulties. The most disabling symptom was non-restorative sleep, followed by pain. An inflammatory and/or autoimmune context was noted in 13 patients (33%), and these comorbidities could have favored the deterioration of the general condition. Three patients also presented with fibromyalgia. However, 3 patients did not mention any complaints.
This survey indicated that patients with PPBL most often initially presented with disabling chronic fatigue, chronic pain, and other symptoms suggestive of SEID but requiring more studies to confirm it. Education of medical staff about the symptoms of PPBL should be encouraged to better assess this peculiar condition.