A Diagnostic Approach to the Identification of Burkitt-like Lymphoma With 11q Aberration in Aggressive B-Cell Lymphomas


Am J Surg Pathol. 2020 Oct 30. doi: 10.1097/PAS.0000000000001613. Online ahead of print.


Rare cases of aggressive B-cell lymphomas with a morphology similar to Burkitt lymphoma (BL) present with the BL-typical immunophenotype, but lacked MYC translocation (MYC-negative Burkitt-like lymphoma: mnBLL). A proportion of those with an imbalance pattern in chromosome 11q has been designated Burkitt-like lymphoma with 11q aberration in the recent update of the World Health Organization (WHO) classification. Because of the problems in the identification of Burkitt-like lymphoma with 11q

aberration, our goal was to retrospectively analyze their frequency in a cohort of "candidate" aggressive lymphomas (cohort 1, n=35) such as mnBLL (n=16), diffuse large B-cell lymphoma with similarities to Burkitt lymphoma (DLBCL-BL; n=3), high-grade B-cell lymphomas, not otherwise specified (NOS) (n=16), as well as in a cohort of MYC-negative diffuse large B-cell lymphoma NOS (cohort 2, n=62). In total, 17/33 cohort 1 cases (52%) harbored the typical 11q aberration pattern, predominantly those that had been classified as mnBLL (12/16, 75%), but also as DLBCL-BL (2/3, 67%) and high-grade B-cell lymphomas, NOS (3/14; 21%). The specimens with this typical 11q aberration pattern were usually negative for the BCL2 protein. Of interest and as a new finding, samples harboring the 11q aberration pattern were often characterized by strikingly coarse apoptotic debris within starry sky macrophages facilitating their recognition. In contrast, only 1 of 62 garden variety DLBCL, NOS was positive for the 11q aberration pattern. In 2 DLBCL-BL, a dual MYC translocation/11q aberration pattern was detected. As a diagnostic algorithm, we, therefore, propose analysis of 11q status in MYC-negative high-grade lymphomas with features of BL, especially showing BCL2 negativity and a conspicuous coarse apoptotic debris in starry sky macrophages.