T‐cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (T‐CLL) accounts for about 2% of the various types of CLL and can be subtyped into helper/inducer (h/i) and cytotoxic/suppressor (c/s) cell membrane phenotypes. Seven patients with CLL were shown to have T‐CLL with a h/i cell membrane phenotype; four with monoclonal antibody reagents and three by demonstration of the E‐rosette receptor and focal acid alpha naphthyl acetate esterase activity. The clinical courses, treatment responses, and laboratory findings of these seven patients were reviewed to determine the prognosis and unique clinicopathologic features of this subtype. Two patients presented with skin rashes, and five were diagnosed during evaluation for other medical problems. Initially, four patients had splenomegaly and two had lymphadenopathy, but none of the patients had hepatomegaly. Morphologic examination revealed uniform, small lymphocytes in three patients, and the lymphocytes had nuclear indentations in four patients. Sera from the three patients tested were negative for antibody to the human T‐cell leukemia/lymphoma virus I. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells from one patient showed normal interleukin‐2 production and lacked antibody‐dependent cell‐mediated cellular cytotoxicity and natural killer activity. Cytogenetic analysis was done on one patient, revealing an abnormal clone with several chromosomal abnormalities, including an X; 14 translocation with a break point at 14q11. All patients required chemotherapy, and all died a median of 21 months from the time of diagnosis. The findings in these patients, in addition to those in 31 patients described in the literature, indicate that h/i T‐CLL is associated with a poor prognosis and has distinct clinical and pathologic features that separate it from c/s T‐CLL, adult T‐cell leukemia/lymphoma, the cutaneous T‐cell lymphomas, and B‐CLL.
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