Clinicopathologic features of B-cell lineage neoplasms with aberrant expression of CD3: A study of 21 cases

Jennifer L. Oliveira, Karen L. Grogg, William R. MacOn, Ahmet Dogan, Andrew L. Feldman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


CD3 expression by immunohistochemistry was historically considered restricted to T-lineage or NK-lineage neoplasms but recently has been reported in rare cases of mature B-cell neoplasms, frequently in association with Epstein-Barr virus. Here, we describe the pathologic features of 21 B-cell lineage neoplasms that express CD3 protein by immunohistochemistry: 12 diffuse large B-cell lymphomas (DLBCLs); 2 plasmablastic lymphomas (PBLs); 4 plasma cell neoplasms; 2 Burkitt lymphomas; and 1 nodal follicular lymphoma, grade 3A. CD20 expression was negative or only partially positive in 13/21 cases. Epstein-Barr virus was positive in 3/20 tested cases (2 PBLs and 1 DLBCL). All tested neoplasms (14/14) had clonal immunoglobulin gene rearrangements, and no clonal T-cell gene rearrangements were detected (0/14). The 12 DLBCLs segregated into 2 main groups: 7 demonstrated features of plasmacytic differentiation but did not meet criteria for PBL, and 5 had anaplastic features. In addition to morphology, other features shared among the DLBCLs with plasmacytic differentiation, the plasma cell neoplasms, and the PBLs included extranodal presentation, cytoplasmic localization of CD3, and lack of expression of other T-cell antigens in most cases. In contrast, DLBCLs with anaplastic features and the single follicular lymphoma coexpressed multiple T-cell antigens in a predominantly membranous pattern and presented with nodal disease in a relatively younger patient population. Our data expand the spectrum of morphologic, phenotypic, and clinical features of B-cell neoplasms aberrantly expressing CD3. As these neoplasms often lack typical expression of B-cell antigens, knowledge of these features will help avoid misclassification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1364-1370
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Surgical Pathology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2012


  • B-cell lymphoma
  • Burkitt
  • CD3
  • aberrant T-cell antigen
  • follicular
  • lineage plasticity
  • plasma cell myeloma
  • plasmablastic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Surgery
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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