AIM: To corroborate and investigate the nature of Hodgkin/Reed-Sternberg cells (H/R-S) of various subtypes of Hodgkin's disease. METHOD: Single H/R-S cells were micro-picked from frozen sections of tissues affected by Hodgkin's disease. The DNA from these cells was amplified by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) with immunoglobulin heavy chain (IgH) gene FRIIIa/JH primers and light chain gene family specific primers. RESULTS: Fifty two of 135 isolated cells gave specific reaction products (36%). IgH and V kappa 4 gene rearrangements were found repeatedly in many H/R-S cells from one case of lymphocyte predominant Hodgkin's disease. Repeated V kappa 4 and individual IgH/V kappa 4,2 rearrangements were seen in one case, and individual IgH and V lambda 3/V kappa 4 rearrangements were seen in another case of nodular sclerosis-type Hodgkin's disease. Repeated IgH/V lambda 3 and individual V lambda 2,4 rearrangements, repeated V kappa 4 and individual IgH/V kappa 3 rearrangements, and repeated IgH and individual V kappa 3/V kappa 4 rearrangement were detected, respectively, in three cases of mixed cellularity-type Hodgkin's disease. Repeated and individual IgH rearrangements were found in another two cases of mixed cellularity-type Hodgkin's disease. CONCLUSION: The H/R-S cells isolated from lymphocyte predominant Hodgkin's disease had IgH and V kappa 4 gene rearrangements, which supports the conclusion that this disease results from a proliferation of neoplastic B cells. The IgH and kappa and/or lambda gene rearrangements seen in H/R-S cells isolated from classic Hodgkin's disease (mixed cellularity-type and nodular sclerosis-type) support the theory that these cells derive from B lineage cells at various stages of differentiation. To our knowledge, this is first time that lambda gene rearrangements have been detected in H/R-S cells.
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