The p80(NPM/ALK) expression activated by the t(2;5) (p23;q35) translocation recently has been shown to play an important role in the pathogenesis of anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL). However, the clinicopathologic significance of identification of p80 among ALCL cases has not been completely resolved. Difficulties also exist in the histologic and immunophenotypic identification of ALCL and Hodgkin's disease (HD) as separate processes, often complicating the clinicopathologic evaluation of and therapeutic approach to these entitles. In order to clarify these issues, 67 specimens of ALCL and 63 specimens of HD (31 of the nodular-sclerosing type [NS-HD] and 32 of the mixed-cellularity type [MC-HD]) were immunostained using anti-p80 antibody and other relevant markers on paraffin sections. The clinicopathologic and immunophenotypic features were reviewed on the basis of p80 reactivity. The expression of p80 was detected in 43 of 67 cases of ALCL (64%), but none of HD. The p80+ ALCL cases constituted a very homogeneous group of tumors, characterized by the occurrence in a much younger group and relatively more favorable clinical course than the p80- ALCL, which were in keeping with the data previously reported. They showed virtually the identical immunophenotypic findings of p80+, CD30+, EMA+, CD15-, bcl-2- , and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)- with T- and null-cell phenotype, and showed the distinct morphologic features, including three cases of lymphohistiocytic/small-cell variant, as follows: the indented nuclei, often termed as reniform, embryolike, and horseshoelike; multiple, irregular, but indistinct nucleoli; and few reactive cells of eosinophils and epithelioid cells. Conversely, the 24 p80- ALCL cases, in which epithelial membrane antigen (EMA) and bcl-2 positivities were 33% and 55%, respectively, were heterogeneous and could be subdivided into five different categories, namely (a) 11 cases of HD-like ALCLs, (b) six cases of p80- common ALCL, (c) three cases of secondary ALCL, (d) two cases of primary cutaneous ALCL, and (e) two cases of primary classical ALCL that lacked p80 expression. This study clearly demonstrated that the immunohistochemical detection of p80 is of a crucial importance in delineating the biologically distinct entity of 'primary classical ALCL' from various diseases that show morphologic and immunohistologic overlap, including HD and HD-like ALCL.
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