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CD163 versus CD68 in tumor associated macrophages of classical hodgkin lymphoma

Jonathan A Harris1*, Salvia Jain2, Qinghu Ren1, Alirezah Zarineh1, Cynthia Liu1 and Sherif Ibrahim1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pathology, New York University Langone Medical Center, 560 1st Ave, New York, New York, 10016, USA

2 Department of Medicine, Hematology/Oncology, New York University Langone Medical Center, 560 1st Ave, New York, New York, 10016, USA

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Diagnostic Pathology 2012, 7:12  doi:10.1186/1746-1596-7-12

Published: 30 January 2012


Classical Hodgkin lymphoma (CHL) is a B-cell lymphoproliferative disorder with a relatively good prognosis. A small but significant percentage of patients, however, will respond poorly to therapy. A recent gene expression profiling study has identified a macrophage signature which has been correlated with primary treatment failure, and immunohistochemical tissue microarray for CD68 was shown to reflect the gene signature as a potentially clinically useful marker to predict adverse prognosis.

We examined 44 cases of CHL, mostly nodular sclerosis subtype, in which the immunohistochemical stains for the histiocytic markers CD68 and CD163 were performed. The staining intensity was graded for each stain (< 5, 5-25, and > 25 percent of cells positive in the Hodgkin cell (HC) rich nodules) and background staining characteristics were recorded.

CD163 staining was lower than CD68 in HC rich nodules, with lower background staining (p 0.03). There was no significant difference between either CD68 or CD163 and disease recurrence in a subset (N = 41) of cases.

In conclusion, we demonstrate that CD163 staining is lower than CD68, with less non-specific staining of background inflammatory cells and Hodgkin cells, therefore is a better marker for tumor associated macrophages. However, we did not identify a correlation between staining for CD68 or CD163 and recurrence of disease.

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