Research Article| Volume 274, P1-9, June 2023

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High frequency of BCL2 gene rearrangement-negative follicular lymphoma in northwestern Italy


      • BCL2 gene rearrangement is considered a hallmark of folicular lymphoma.
      • The real frequency of BCL2 rearrangement in follicular lymphoma has not been systematically explored.
      • The frequency of BCL2 rearrangement is lower than expected in our series of follicular lymphomas.
      • BCL2 rearrangement should be assessed at diagnosis, if it supposed to be used as a marker in the follow up.
      • Genetic alterations may drive lympohomagenesis in BCL2-negative follicular lymphoma.


      BCL2 rearrangement is reported to be an early pathogenetic event in follicular lymphoma (FL) and it is considered as a reliable marker in the follow up of the disease. We aimed to investigate the frequency of BCL2 rearrangement in FLs from northwestern Italy, to evaluate their clinicopathological features, and to investigate alternative genetic aberrations in BCL2-negative FLs.
      We collected a series of 76 consecutive FLs diagnosed between 2013 and 2016. All lymphomas underwent histopathological review. Interphasic fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) was performed with break apart probes targeting BCL2, IGH, BCL6 and MYC on paraffin embedded (PE) and fresh frozen (FF) specimens. 1p36 region and p53 locus in BLC2-negative cases were investigated using dual color probes. Karyotype analysis was available in a subset of cases.
      BCL2 rearrangements were detected in 39 cases (51,3%). Of the remaining 37, 6 showed IGH rearrangement, and were further tested: 1 showed variant BCL2 translocation, 1 had BCL6 rearrangement, and the other 4 were negative for further gene rearrangements. FISH on FF specimens detected small BCL2+ clones in cases otherwise categorized as BCL2-. 1p36 and p53 deletion were observed in 1 and 8 BCL2- FLs, respectively. Karyotype analysis documented 3q, 1p and BCL6 alternative abnormalities in 3 cases.
      In conclusion, BCL2 rearrangement is not a constant finding in FL, its frequency being probably affected by geographical factors. Thus, it should not be considered as a reliable molecular marker in the follow up of the disease, unless it is found to be present at the initial diagnosis of FL. Alternative genetic aberrations exist in BCL2-negative cases.


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