A systematic approach to diagnosis of mature T-cell leukemias reveals heterogeneity among WHO categories

Marco Herling, Joseph D. Khoury, La Baron T. Washington, Madeleine Duvic, Michael J. Keating, Dan Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

160 Scopus citations


The current World Health Organization (WHO) classification of hematopoietic malignancies defines several types of mature T-cell leukemia including T-cell prolymphocytic leukemia (T-PLL), Sezary syndrome (SS), and T-cell large granular lymphocytic (T-LGL) leukemia. These neoplasms can show overlapping features with each other and with T-cell lymphomas involving peripheral blood (PB). We analyzed the spectrum of clinicopathologic features in 102 mature T-cell leukemias and compared them to 10 hepatosplenic T-cell lymphomas that involved PB. T-PLL, defined as a T-cell leukemia showing rapidly rising PB lymphocyte counts, was the only tumor type expressing the oncoprotein TCL1 (71% of cases) and could present with relatively low lymphocyte levels or small tumor cell morphology. SS, defined by accompanying arythrodermic skin disease, was frequently associated with peripheral eosinophllia but could also develop high numbers of prolymphocytes, especially late in the disease course. T-LGL leukemia, defined by accompanying cytopenias or autoimmune phenomena (or both), had the best clinical outcome and generally showed the lowest circulating lymphocyte levels with only a few cases developing marked lymphocytosis. Using the dominant clinical or phenotypic feature, we describe here the degree of overlap among currently recognized WHO categories and identify areas where further clarification is needed. Our results indicate that incorporation of additional criteria, such as TCL1 expression status and hematologic parameters, can assist in a more accurate classification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)328-335
Number of pages8
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 15 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Immunology
  • Hematology
  • Cell Biology


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