Aims: Plasmablastic lymphoma (PBL) is a rare aggressive B-cell lymphoma that frequently arises at extranodal sites in the setting of immunosuppression. The diagnosis of PBL is complex, owing to a frequent solid or cohesive growth pattern, and an often unusual immunophenotype. Several case reports have described cytokeratin (CK) expression in PBL, introducing a diagnostic pitfall. The aim of this study was to determine the frequency of CK expression in PBL in the largest series available to date. Methods and results: By using immunohistochemistry in a cohort of 72 PBLs, we identified CK8/18 positivity in 11 of 72 cases (15%) and AE1/3 positivity in six of 65 cases (9%), clearly contrasting with a control series of non-PBL aggressive B-cell lymphomas (one of 96 diffuse large B-cell lymphomas), as well as with data in the literature describing only occasional CK expression in haematological neoplasms. Conclusions: Our data indicate CK expression in a substantial number (15%) of PBLs. In view of the particular morphological features of PBL and its frequent negativity for the common leukocyte antigen and B-cell markers, this feature represents a pitfall in the routine diagnostic work-up of PBL, and requires more extensive immunohistochemical and molecular characterisation of cases entering the differential diagnosis.
- leukocyte common antigen
- plasmablastic lymphoma