Fifty-six cases of anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL), 23 cases of Hodgkin's disease, and 16 cases of diffuse large cell lymphoma were investigated for the t(2;5)(p23;q35) translocation. The translocation was detected by using cytogenetic analysis, reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and immunohistochemistry with P80 antibody directed against the kinase domain of anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) of the chimeric NPM/ALK protein. In all but three cases of ALCL, we found an agreement between cytogenetic analysis, RT-PCR, and P80 staining. However, in one case, the t(2;5) translocation was detected with cytogenetic analysis, but RT-PCR and P80 staining were found to be negative. Conversely, in another case the karyotype was normal, but the hybrid mRNA and P80 staining were found to be positive. In one case, malignant cells showed a translocation involving chromosomes 1q25 and 2p23 and were strongly positive for P80 staining. Such a result could be expected because P80 antibody detects the kinase domaine of the ALK protein encoded by chromosome 2p23. Overall 73.2% (41 of 56) of cases were found to be positive. However, the highest percentage (23 of 26 cases; 88.5%) of P80 positive cases was found in children compared with 60% (18 of 30 cases) in adult ALCL (P < .05). In Hodgkin's disease, Reed-Sternberg cells were found to be clearly negative by RT-PCR and with P80 antibody. The latter results suggest that Hodgkin's disease and t(2;5)-positive ALCL are distinct biological entities and that the demonstration of the t(2;5) translocation is of diagnostic importance in differentiating these two entities. The results of the present study indicate that immunohistochemistry with P80 antibody is a reliable method for detecting NPM/ALK chimeric protein.

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