Abnormally activated T lymphocytes in the spleen of patients with hairy-cell leukemia

J C Kluin-Nelemans, M G Kester, I Oving, F H Cluitmans, R Willemze, J H Falkenburg

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Hairy-cell leukemia (HCL) is a B-cell leukemia, but many factors argue for a T-cell dysfunction and/or involvement in this disease. Hairy cells typically home in the spleen, and become circulating only late in the disease. As it is assumed that the T-cell abnormalities are caused by specific interactions with the hairy cells, we studied the immunophenotype in 17 cases (CD3, CD4, CD8, CD45R0, TCR gamma delta) and cytokine gene expression in four cases (IL-1 beta, IL-2, IL-3, IL-4, IL-6, IL-7, IL-10, IFN-gamma, TNF-alpha, GM-CSF and the receptors of IL-1 and IL-2, using the cDNA-PCR technique) of purified T-cell fractions from hairy-cell spleens. By Northern blot analysis, mRNA for IFN-gamma, GM-CSF, IL-10 and TNF-alpha was measured in purified T cells and hairy cells from three HCL spleens. The results of the immunophenotype and cDNA-PCR data were compared with ten normal spleens. Compared to blood, splenic T cells showed a reversed CD4/CD8 ratio, a normal percentage of memory T cells, and an increase in CD3+TCR gamma delta + cells. Without specific induction spontaneous cytokine gene expression of IL-2, IL-4, IFN-gamma, and GM-CSF was seen in the purified T-cell fractions without signals in the purified hairy-cell fractions. mRNA expression of IFN-gamma and GM-CSF in the T cells, and of IL-10 and TNF-alpha in the hairy cells was confirmed by the Northern blot technique. From these data we suggest that splenic T cells in HCL should not be considered as residual or recirculating T cells, but rather as tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2095-101
Number of pages7
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec-1994
Externally publishedYes


  • Blotting, Northern
  • Cytokines
  • Gene Expression
  • Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor
  • Humans
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Interferon-gamma
  • Interleukin-2
  • Leukemia, Hairy Cell
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Lymphocytes, Tumor-Infiltrating
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Spleen
  • T-Lymphocytes

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