Quantitative monitoring of lymphoid malignancies. Application and findings in chronic lymphocytic leukemia

J. R. Kettman, R. G. Smith, J. W. Uhr, E. S. Vitetta, R. Sheehan, F. S. Ligler, E. P. Frenkel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The present study investigated the surface immunoglobulin (Ig) phenotypic pattern in 64 cases of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). The fluorescence activated cell sorter techniques were modified to provide sensitive and highly reproducible detection and quantification of the otherwise faint surface immunoglobulins on the cells in CLL. In over 98% of the cases of CLL, light chain of the surface Ig could be identified and measured. Serial measurements were shown to be highly reproducible. The phenotypic pattern and density identified on the surface of the circulating lymphocytes precisely reflected the findings in any given patient when other lymphoid tissue (bone marrow, lymph node or spleen) was sampled. Intraclonal heterogeneity detected by surface Ig was seen in some cases of CLL in spite of relatively uniform morphology by other classical techniques. Three patterns of cell-to-cell variation were seen: 1) that of a non-Gaussian distribution of surface Ig staining intensity; 2) that of the presence of increased surface light Ig chain on a portion of the cells with a subpopulation of CLL cells showing an additional class of heavy chain, and 3) that of anisotropy where the surface Ig quantitatively did not correlate with cell size. Immunoglobulin phenotypic characterization of the cases of CLL was correlated with their clinical stage of disease activity. The distribution of surface light chain phenotype did not relate to any pattern of clinical stage of activity of the disease. By contrast, cases where the cells had a predominance of surface IgM were associated with a more advanced stage of CLL and a poorer clinical prognosis. When surface IgG was predominant, a lesser degree of clinical activity of disease was identified. The phenotypic pattern of the surface Ig on the lymphocytes in CLL mirrors the pattern of differentiation in the murine model of B-cell differentiation, and clinical aggressiveness appears to correlate with the character and degree of B-cell differentiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-33
Number of pages13
JournalBlood Cells
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1983

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology


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