Abstract

Malignant lymphocytes from 30 B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (B- CLL) patients were studied for the cytochemical localization of two acid hydrolases, alpha-naphthyl acetate esterase (ANAE) and acid phosphatase (AT). The large majority of the cells stained for both ANAE and AP in 7 cases, for AP only in 18 cases, and were negative for both the enzymes in 5 cases. Ultrastructural analysis revealed that the cells that displayed more mature morphological features, such as well developed smooth and rough membrane compartments, were those positive for acid hydrolases. That ANAE and AP are expressed by B cells at late stage of maturation was confirmed by the finding that some lymphocytes and all of the plasmacytoid lymphocytes and plasma cells from Walderstrom's macroglobulinemia, from mixed cryoglobulinemia, and from multiple myeloma patients stained strongly for both ANAE and AP. Using the expression of acid hydrolases and certain ultrastructural features as markers of cell differentiation, it was possible to demonstrate a process of maturation within the single B-CLL clones with accumulation of the cells at stages that differed in the various cases.

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