Utility of TRBC1 Expression in the Diagnosis of Peripheral Blood Involvement by Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphoma

Pedro Horna, Min Shi, Dragan Jevremovic, Fiona E. Craig, Nneka I. Comfere, Horatiu Olteanu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Peripheral blood involvement by cutaneous T-cell lymphoma is typically assessed by flow cytometry and plays a critical role in diagnosis, classification, and prognosis. Simplified strategies to detect tumor cells (Sezary cells) fail to exclude reactive subsets, whereas tumor-specific abnormalities are subtle and inconsistently present. We implemented a flow cytometric strategy to detect clonal Sezary cells based on the monotypic expression of one of two mutually exclusive TCR constant β chains, TRBC1 and TRBC2. Analysis of CD4+ T-cell subsets and TCR variable β classes from healthy donors showed polytypic TRBC1 staining. Clonal Sezary cells were identified by TRBC1 staining in 56 of 111 (50%) samples from patients with cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, accounting for 7–18,155 cells/μl and including 13 cases (23%) lacking tumor-specific immunophenotypic abnormalities. CD4+ T-cell subsets from 86 patients without T-cell lymphoma showed polytypic TRBC1 staining, except for five patients (6%) with minute T-cell clones of uncertain significance accounting for 53–136 cells/μl. Assessment of TRBC1 expression within a comprehensive single-tube flow cytometry assay effectively overcomes interpretative uncertainties in the identification of Sezary cells without the need for a separate T-cell clonality assay.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)821-829.e2
JournalJournal of Investigative Dermatology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Dermatology
  • Cell Biology


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