Lymphoma & related disorders

Hodgkin lymphoma

Classic Hodgkin lymphoma



Topic Completed: 1 December 2021

Minor changes: 1 December 2021

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Martha Frances Wright, M.D.
Emily Mason, M.D., Ph.D.
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Cite this page: Wright MF, Mason E. Classic Hodgkin lymphoma. PathologyOutlines.com website. https://www.pathologyoutlines.com/topic/lymphomanonBclassic.html. Accessed December 3rd, 2021.
Definition / general
  • Classic Hodgkin lymphoma (CHL): B cell derived lymphoma characterized by distinctive immunophenotype and relatively few malignant cells in a nonneoplastic inflammatory background
  • 4 subgroups (nodular sclerosis, mixed cellularity, lymphocyte rich, lymphocyte depleted) with distinct clinical, morphologic and epidemiologic characteristics
Essential features
  • B cell derived lymphoma characterized by distinctive immunophenotype and relatively few malignant cells in a nonneoplastic inflammatory background
  • 4 subgroups (nodular sclerosis, mixed cellularity, lymphocyte rich, lymphocyte depleted) with distinct clinical, morphologic and epidemiologic characteristics
  • Involves lymph nodes (cervical > axillary, mediastinal, paraaortic)
  • Bimodal age distribution: peaks at 15 - 35 years and 50 - 70 years
  • Multiple mechanisms to evade immunosurveillance, including upregulation of programmed death ligand 1 / programmed death ligand 2 (PDL1 / PDL2)
Terminology
  • Classical Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Hodgkin disease
ICD coding
  • ICD-10: C.81* - classic Hodgkin lymphoma
  • ICD-10: C.81.90 - classic Hodgkin lymphoma, unspecified, unspecified site
  • ICD-11: 2B30.1Z - classical Hodgkin lymphoma, unspecified
Epidemiology
  • CHL: ~90 - 95% of Hodgkin lymphomas
  • Bimodal age distribution: peaks at 15 - 35 years and 50 - 70 years
  • Epidemiology varies by subgroup (Br J Haematol 2019;184:45):
    • Nodular sclerosis (~70% of CHL in Western countries): F > M, age 15 - 35 years, most common in urban areas, wealthier nations and individuals with high socioeconomic status, minority (10 - 25%) EBV+
    • Mixed cellularity (~20% of CHL): children and adults > 60 years, M > F, more common in developing countries and rural areas, majority (70 - 80%) EBV+
    • Lymphocyte rich (~5% of CHL): M > F, age 30 - 50 years
    • Lymphocyte depleted (<1% of CHL in Western countries): M > F, age 30 - 70 years
Sites
  • Lymph nodes (cervical > axillary, mediastinal, paraaortic)
  • Mediastinal involvement in 80% of nodular sclerosis CHL
  • Extranodal sites: spleen (20%), liver, lungs, bone marrow (5%)
  • Typical anatomic distribution varies by subgroup (Br J Haematol 2019;184:45):
    • Nodular sclerosis: mediastinal, cervical, supraclavicular lymph nodes
    • Mixed cellularity: peripheral lymph nodes, spleen, bone marrow
    • Lymphocyte rich: peripheral lymph nodes
    • Lymphocyte depleted: retroperitoneal lymph nodes, abdomen, bone marrow
Pathophysiology
  • Pathophysiology incompletely understood
  • Malignant Reed-Sternberg cells derived from preapoptotic germinal center B cells with a disrupted B cell program (Blood 2000;95:1443)
  • In a subset of cases, IgVH mutations lead to dysfunctional / absent B cell receptor, prohibiting antigenic selection; incompatible with survival of normal B cells (J Exp Med 1996;184:1495)
  • Postulated to circumvent apoptosis by differentiating toward distinct subset of CD30+ post germinal center memory B cells (J Clin Invest 2018;128:2996)
  • Cell proliferation and survival promoted by alterations in signaling pathways, including JAK / STAT, NFkB, PI3K / AKT and MAPK / ERK (Leukemia 2021;35:968, Cancers (Basel) 2021;13:682)
  • EBV infection thought to drive aberrant signaling in EBV+ cases (Histopathology 2021;79:451)
  • Reed-Sternberg cell cytokine secretion recruits nonneoplastic inflammatory infiltrate; reciprocal cytokine / chemokine secretion by immune cells supports Reed-Sternberg cell survival and proliferation
  • Reed-Sternberg cell evasion of immunosurveillance:
Etiology
  • Cause incompletely understood
  • Factors associated with increased risk of developing CHL:
Diagrams / tables

Images hosted on other servers:
Reed-Sternberg cell and microenvironment

Reed-Sternberg cell and microenvironment

Clinical features
  • Peripheral lymphadenopathy
  • 30 - 40% of patients present with B symptoms (fever, night sweats, weight loss), pruritis
  • Stage at presentation (Blood Rev 2002;16:111):
    • Nodular sclerosis, lymphocyte rich usually present with early stage disease
    • Mixed cellularity and lymphocyte depleted associated with HIV infection and EBV often present with advanced stage disease
    • Immunosuppression (including HIV infection) associated with advanced stage disease
Diagnosis
  • Excisional lymph node biopsy or tissue biopsy
  • FNA and core needle biopsy may be insufficient given importance of tissue architecture for diagnosis and potential rarity of Reed-Sternberg cells
Laboratory
  • Nonspecific
  • Elevated C reactive protein
  • Eosinophilia (20%)
Radiology description
  • Lower cervical, supraclavicular and mediastinal lymphadenopathy
  • Bulky mediastinal disease in 50% of nodular sclerosis subtype
  • PET / CT recommended for staging (J Clin Oncol 2014;32:3059)
  • PET / CT has high sensitivity for detecting bone marrow involvement
Radiology images

Images hosted on other servers:
PET scan before and after therapy

PET scan before and after therapy

Prognostic factors
  • Differences in prognosis between different subgroups largely gone with modern therapy
  • Immunosuppression, HIV infection associated with worse prognosis
  • Staging critical for accurate prognostication and treatment
    • Early stage disease includes favorable and unfavorable groups
      • Unfavorable prognosis associated with B symptoms, bulky mediastinal disease, elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), involvement of multiple lymph node groups, extranodal disease, older age (> 40 - 50 years)
    • Advanced stage disease: prognosis associated with International Prognostic Score, based on 7 variables that independently predict outcome (N Engl J Med 1998;339:1506)
  • 80 - 90% cure rates with stage adapted therapy
  • 10 - 25% of patients have primary refractory disease or relapse
  • Increased percentage of CD68 positive macrophages in a diagnostic lymph node biopsy associated with shorter progression free and disease specific survival and increased failure rate after secondary treatment, including autologous stem cell transplant (N Engl J Med 2010;362:875)
Case reports
Treatment
  • ABVD (doxorubicin, bleomycin, vinblastine, dacarbazine) with or without IFRT (involved field radiation therapy)
  • BEACOPP (bleomycin, etoposide, doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide, vincristine, procarbazine, prednisone) or AVD with brentuximab vedotin (anti-CD30 antibody drug conjugate) sometimes used in advanced disease
  • Options for relapsed / refractory disease include brentuximab vedotin, chemotherapy, checkpoint inhibitors, high dose therapy and autologous stem cell transplant, allogeneic stem cell transplant
  • Risks of treatment related morbidity, including therapy related malignancy (> 4x risk of cancer compared with general population), cardiovascular complications from mediastinal IFRT (Br J Haematol 2019;184:9)
  • Interim PET scan after 2 cycles of chemotherapy may be used to guide treatment (PET adapted therapy) (Br J Haematol 2019;184:9)
Gross description
  • Nodular sclerosis subtype: enlarged lymph node, thickened capsule, fibrotic bands with prominent nodularity
  • Nodular involvement of spleen
Gross images

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Fleshy lymph node

Liver with multifocal involvement

Frozen section description
  • Effacement of nodal architecture
  • Nodularity
  • Mixed inflammatory background (small lymphocytes, neutrophils, eosinophils, histiocytes)
  • May see scattered large Reed-Sternberg cells with multilobated nuclei and prominent nucleoli
Frozen section images

Contributed by Emily Mason, M.D., Ph.D.
Reed-Sternberg cells

Reed-Sternberg cells

Microscopic (histologic) description
  • Total or partial effacement of nodal architecture
  • Nodular sclerosis subtype: nodularity, dense collagen bands, thickened capsule
  • Diagnostic cell = Reed-Sternberg cell: large size (up to 100 microns), bilobated to multilobated nucleus, prominent eosinophilic nucleolus, ample amphophilic cytoplasm
  • Mononuclear variants = Hodgkin cells: single round to oval nucleus with prominent eosinophilic nucleolus
  • Mummified forms: degenerated Hodgkin and Reed-Sternberg cells, condensed hyperchromatic nuclei
  • Lacunar cells: characteristic of nodular sclerosis subtype, lobulated nuclei, pale retracted cytoplasm (artifact of formalin fixation), creating lacunae-like spaces
  • Mixed inflammatory background (Br J Haematol 2019;184:45):
    • Nodular sclerosis: small lymphocytes, neutrophils, eosinophils, histiocytes, plasma cells, necrosis and microabscesses common, with banding fibrosis
    • Mixed cellularity: small lymphocytes, neutrophils, eosinophils, histiocytes, plasma cells, epithelioid granulomas common
    • Lymphocyte depleted: reduced background infiltrate
    • Lymphocyte rich: nodules of small B cells, epithelioid histiocytes
  • Diagnostic Hodgkin and Reed-Sternberg cells may be rare to frequent depending on subtype
    • Syncytial variant: variant of nodular sclerosis subtype; Hodgkin and Reed-Sternberg cells present in aggregates and sheets, with typical inflammatory background and immunophenotype of nodular sclerosis subtype
Microscopic (histologic) images

Contributed by Emily Mason, M.D., Ph.D.
Hodgkin and Reed-Sternberg cells

Hodgkin and Reed-Sternberg cells

Nodular sclerosis CHL

Nodular sclerosis CHL

Scattered Reed-Sternberg cells

Scattered Reed-Sternberg cells

Lacunar cell

Lacunar cell

Syncytial variant

Syncytial variant


Weak PAX5 expression

Weak PAX5 expression

CD30 expression

CD30 expression

Variable CD20 expression

Variable CD20 expression

EBV positivity

EBV positivity

Syncytial variant, CD30 stain

Syncytial variant, CD30 stain

Virtual slides

Images hosted on other servers:
Nodular sclerosis CHL

Nodular sclerosis CHL

Cytology description
  • Mixed inflammatory background (small lymphocytes, neutrophils, eosinophils, histiocytes)
  • May see scattered large Reed-Sternberg cells with multilobated nuclei and prominent nucleoli
Cytology images

Contributed by Emily Mason, M.D., Ph.D.
Reed-Sternberg cell

Reed-Sternberg cell

Positive stains
Negative stains
Flow cytometry description
  • Hodgkin and Reed-Sternberg cells typically not identified by flow cytometry
  • Flow cytometry shows background infiltrate
  • Typically, mixed T cells with increased CD4:CD8 ratio
Electron microscopy description
  • Large rounded or oblong nuclei with folding, indentation and lobulation (Am J Pathol 1976;85:195)
  • Occasional multinucleation
  • Very large nucleoli
Electron microscopy images

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Reed-Sternberg cell nucleus Reed-Sternberg cell nucleus

Reed-Sternberg cell nucleus

Molecular / cytogenetics description
  • Hodgkin and Reed-Sternberg cells = B cells with clonal immunoglobulin heavy chain rearrangements (microdissection of Hodgkin and Reed-Sternberg cells required for detection) (Blood 2000;95:1443)
  • Immunoglobulin gene expression silenced in Hodgkin and Reed-Sternberg cells (Blood 2000;95:1443)
  • Hodgkin and Reed-Sternberg cells show numerical chromosome abnormalities in almost all cases (Blood 1995;86:1464)
  • 90% of CHL shows copy number gain or amplification at 9p24.1; causes increased expression of PDL1 and PDL2 (J Clin Oncol 2016;34:2690)
  • Gene mutations in components of the JAK / STAT and NFkB signaling pathways promote cell proliferation and survival (Leukemia 2021;35:968, Cancers (Basel) 2021;13:682)
Molecular / cytogenetics images

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PDL1 / PDL2 gain, amplification

PDL1 / PDL2 gain, amplification

Sample pathology report
  • Lymph node, left neck, excision:
    • Classic hodgkin lymphoma, nodular sclerosis subtype (see comment)
    • Comment: H&E stained sections show an enlarged lymph node with near total architectural effacement by a nodular mixed inflammatory infiltrate composed of small lymphocytes, plasma cells, neutrophils and numerous eosinophils, with scattered admixed large abnormal cells. The large abnormal cells have oval to occasionally multilobated nuclei, vesicular chromatin, prominent nucleoli and abundant cytoplasm, consistent with Reed-Sternberg cells and mononuclear variants. Lacunar cells are present. The lymph node capsule is thickened and banding fibrosis is present
    • Immunostains show that the large abnormal cells are positive for PAX5 (weak), CD30 and CD15 (subset) and are negative for CD20, CD45 and CD3. In situ hybridization for EBV encoded RNA (EBER) is negative. CD3 highlights background small T cells.
    • Flow cytometry showed polytypic B cells and mixed T cells subsets.
Differential diagnosis
Board review style question #1

Which of the following is most likely to be negative in the large abnormal cells in the image above?

  1. CD15
  2. CD30
  3. CD45
  4. MUM1
  5. PDL1
Board review style answer #1
Board review style question #2
Which of the following is most consistent with the immunophenotype of Reed-Sternberg cells?

  1. Positive: CD3, CD30, CD45, ALK1; negative: CD15, CD20, EBER, MUM1
  2. Positive: CD15, CD20, MUM1, ALK1; negative: CD3, CD15, CD45, EBER
  3. Positive: CD15, CD30, MUM1; negative: CD3, CD20, CD45
  4. Positive: CD15, CD45, EBER; negative: CD20, CD30, MUM1
  5. Positive: CD20, CD30, CD45, ALK1; negative: CD15, CD3, EBER
Board review style answer #2
C. Positive: CD15, CD30, MUM1; negative: CD3, CD20, CD45

Comment Here

Reference: Classic Hodgkin lymphoma
Board review style question #3
Which of the following subtypes of classic Hodgkin lymphoma is most commonly associated with EBV?

  1. Lymphocyte depleted
  2. Lymphocyte rich
  3. Mixed cellularity
  4. Nodular lymphocyte predominant
  5. Nodular sclerosis
Board review style answer #3
C. Mixed cellularity

Comment Here

Reference: Classic Hodgkin lymphoma
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