Context.—

Nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma (NLPHL) is a rare, indolent Hodgkin lymphoma subtype with distinct clinicopathologic features and treatment paradigms. The neoplastic lymphocyte-predominant cells typically express bright CD20 and other B-cell antigens, which distinguishes them from Hodgkin/Reed-Sternberg cells of lymphocyte-rich classic Hodgkin lymphoma.

Objective.—

To characterize the clinicopathologic features of CD20-negative NLPHL at a single institution.

Design.—

A retrospective search for CD20-negative NLPHL in our pathology archives and medical records was conducted.

Results.—

Of 486 NLPHL patients identified with CD20 available for review, 14 (2.8%) had LP cells with absent CD20 expression. Patients with prior rituximab administration (n = 7) and insufficient clinical history (n = 1) were excluded, leaving 6 patients with rituximab-naïve, CD20-negative NLPHL. A broad immunohistochemical panel showed the LP cells in all cases expressed B-cell antigens, particularly Oct-2, although PAX5 and CD79a were frequently also dim. CD30, CD15, and Epstein-Barr virus-encoded small RNAs were negative in all evaluated cases. Two patients had high-risk variant immunoarchitectural pattern D. One patient had extranodal disease, involving the spleen and bone, and was suspected to have large cell transformation. Standard NLPHL therapy was given, including local radiation and/or chemotherapy. Of 5 patients with available follow-up, 4 are alive in complete remission after therapy, and 1 is alive with relapsed disease.

Conclusions.—

NLPHL can lack CD20 de novo without prior rituximab therapy. In such cases, extensive immunophenotyping helps distinguish NLPHL from lymphocyte-rich classic Hodgkin lymphoma, which differ in clinical behavior and therapy. In our series, CD20-negative NLPHL showed both classic and variant histologic patterns and the expected range of clinical behavior seen in NLPHL, including 1 case with suspected large cell transformation.

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Author notes

This project was funded by the Stanford Department of Pathology.

The authors have no relevant financial interest in the products or companies described in this article.