The nature of cells present in the blood, marrow, and spleen of patients with hairy cell leukemia is largely debated. These cells have been tentatively categorized on the basis of either monocytic or lymphocytic markers, and the accumulating data points to the fact that they share some characteristics of both cell types. Although hairy cells are known to lack myeloperoxidase-positive granules, present in normal human monocytes, we investigated the possible presence of other peroxidase activities differing from the granule-bound myeloperoxidase. The study was carried out with several methods based on the incubation of fixed and unfixed cells in the presence of diaminobenzidine and hydrogen peroxide. A peroxidase activity was found in hairy cells, located always in the endoplasmic reticulum but not in the Golgi apparatus or in any granule. By its cytochemical characteristics it appears to be closely related to that of tissue macrophages, activated blood monocytes, and other nonlymphocytic hematopoietic cells. This peroxidase is not found in lymphocytes with B or T phenotypes.

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