Transformation of a low-grade follicular lymphoma into a composite lymphoma combining a high-grade B-cell lymphoma and a lymphoblastic neoplasm expressing Terminal deoxynucleotidyl Transferase: a case report

Lymphoma
27/07/2020

J Med Case Rep. 2020 Jul 27;14(1):117. doi: 10.1186/s13256-020-02433-6.

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: High-grade B-cell lymphoma with rearrangements of MYC and BCL2 and/or BCL6 is an aggressive mature B-cell neoplasm, whereas B-lymphoblastic lymphoma is immature cell proliferation, with a frequent positivity for terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase. The transformation of a low-grade follicular lymphoma into a lymphoblastic neoplasm expressing terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase is a very rare event.

CASE PRESENTATION: A 55-year-old Caucasian man was followed for a grade 1-2 follicular lymphoma carrying a t(14;18) IGH/BCL2+ and was initially treated with R-CHOP. The follicular lymphoma presented two relapses. In the third relapse, the patient had multiple lymphadenopathy and ascites, which motivated a retroperitoneal biopsy and an ascitic tap. These samples were analyzed by histological, cytological, flow cytometric, cytogenetic, and molecular assessments. The patient died of a multiple organ dysfunction syndrome 2 weeks after his third relapse. The biopsy revealed a diffuse proliferation made up of two types of tumor cells: centroblasts (Bcl-6-positive) and immature cells (terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-positive). Flow cytometric analysis confirmed the immature phenotype, with an expression of terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase, combined with a loss of membrane immunoglobulins. The cytogenetic analysis performed on the ascites revealed a clonal evolution characterized by a t(8;22)(q24;q11) MYC+ translocation not previously detected in follicular lymphoma. Fluorescence in situ hybridization confirmed the double rearrangement of the BCL2 and MYC genes. Polymerase chain reactions and sequencing were used to study the clonal relationship between follicular lymphoma and the secondary tumors. The IGVH gene rearrangement revealed a unique clonal rearrangement involving an IGVH4-59 subset in all three specimens.

CONCLUSION: These findings suggest a clonal relationship between the two types of lymphoma cells. Furthermore, they support the transformation of an acute follicular lymphoma into a composite lymphoma combining a high-grade B-cell lymphoma and a lymphoblastic neoplasm expressing terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase. This case report highlights the possible transformation of follicular lymphoma into a highly aggressive and immature proliferation.