Lymphocyte predominance Hodgkin's disease (LPHD) is a clinically indolent condition. Although there is evidence that the putative neoplastic cell in this disease, the “L&H” cell, is of B-cell lineage, there is conflicting data concerning the clonality of these cells. Our study was aimed at clarifying the issue of lineage and clonality of the L&H cells of LPHD using a single-cell assay. Four cases of LPHD were studied. To circumvent the difficulties of obtaining fresh tissue and to be able to study representative cases, a new method was developed to obtain single-cell suspensions of L&H cells from archival formalin- fixed paraffin-embedded tissue. Single L&H cells were identified by morphology and immunostaining for epithelial membrane antigen, isolated using a micropipette, and subjected to polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification of the complematarity determining region 3 (CDR3) of the Ig heavy chain (IgH) gene, which is B-cell clone-specific. The PCR products were size-fractionated by polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and representative products were directly sequenced. Single T cells and small B cells were also isolated from the tissues and used as negative and positive controls, respectively. In all four cases of LPHD, the IgH CDR3 of single L&H cells could be amplified. Within each case, the IgH CDR3 of single L&H cells was found to be of different length or of different sequence. Therefore, our results provide strong evidence for the B-cell origin of the L&H cells and the polyclonal nature of LPHD.

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