We studied 25 T-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (T-CLL) cases collected over a 15-year period. Immunophenotypic analysis was performed in each case; 12 cases were evaluated by cytogenetics, and gene rearrangement studies were performed in 14 cases. The median age was 57 years with a mate predominance (M:F, 15:10). The median presenting lymphocyte count was 36.3 x 103/L (range, 3.9 to 438 x 103/L). Fourteen patients (56%) had shotty adenopathy and ten (40%) had mild-to-moderate splenomegaly at presentation; four (16%) had erythematous skin lesions. The lymphocytes were predominantly small; some cases had a minor component of medium-sized cells (<10%). The nuclear:cytoplasmic ratios were uniformly high with round to oval nuclei; however, a wide spectrum of nuclear outlines could be found, ranging from minimally to markedly convoluted. Nucleoli were either absent or small and inconspicuous. These lymphocytes did not have the morphology of prolymphocytes and did not contain cytoplasmic granules. Bone marrow infiltration was generally in an interstitial pattern; the degree of involvement ranged from 15% to 90%. Immunophenotyping showed that the lymphocytes were mature T-cells with a predominant CD4+ immunophenotype. Three cases displayed a CD8+ immunophenotype. The patients were treated with a variety of chemotherapeutic regimens with only a minimal response observed in two of 20 patients. We conclude that T-CLL is an uncommon chronic lymphoproliferative disorder (CLPD) that can be morphologically similar to B- CLL, is distinct from T-prolymphocytic leukemia, and has an aggressive clinical course that is refractory to therapy. It may also be difficult to distinguish T-CLL from other T-CLPD, especially the leukemic phase of peripheral T-cell lymphoma and some cases of Sezary syndrome.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology