Molecular Perspectives of Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma

Case

A 100 year old female was seen for follow-up for her hypertension, mild renal impairment, and fatigue. The patient also stated a three week duration of pain in the area of the right upper quadrant that radiates to her back. No other symptoms or concerns were expressed.

An abdominal CT was performed which showed a 6.6 x 2.1 cm soft tissue mass in the right posterior chest wall that also encases the 11th rib. Given the concern for a malignant process, a core needle biopsy was obtained for histology only.

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H&E, 20x
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H&E, 50x
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CD20
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CD10
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BCL6
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MUM1
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Ki-67

The H&E stained sections show a diffuse infiltration of atypical lymphoid cells that are large in size with irregular nuclear contours, vesicular chromatin, and some with prominent nucleoli. Frequent apoptotic bodies and mitotic figures were seen. By immunohistochemistry, CD20 highlights the infiltrating cells, which are positive for BCL2, BCL6, and MUM1 (major subset). CD10 is negative within the atypical lymphoid population. CD3 highlights background T-cells. Ki-67 proliferation index is approximately 70%. EBER ISH is negative.

Overall, the findings are consistent with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, NOS with a non-GCB phenotype by the Hans algorithm.

Discussion

Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) is the most common B-cell lymphoma in adults comprising 30%-40% of new adult lymphomas. Approximately 50% of patients will be cured, even in advanced cases; however, those that fail conventional therapy ultimately succumb to their illness.1 Up to 30% of patients have refractoriness or relapse after initial therapy with rituximab based regimens, particulary R-CHOP (ritixumab, cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisone).

In the era of new molecular techniques and in the context of the heterogeneous nature of DLBCL, it has become important to accurately assess cell of origin (COO) as this has prognostic implications. With the seminal paper from Alizadeh and colleagues, gene expression profiling (GEP) by a microarray platform produced the concept of germinal center (GCB) versus activated B-cell (ABC) types of DLBCL.2 In the context of prognosis and R-CHOP therapy, the GCB type has a 3 year PFS of 75% as opposed to the ABC type that has a 3 year PFS of 40% (P<.001).3 Although GEP analysis is considered the ideal modality for determining COO, however, given the constraints of most modern hematopathology practices, surrogate immunohistochemical algorithms were developed to aid in COO determination. Of the multiple algorithms, the Hans algorithm is the most widely used and accepted for IHC determination of COO.

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Adapted from Hans et al., Blood, 2004

The COO determination has revealed multiple genetic alterations that are shared between the GCB and ABC phenotype while distinct changes have been identified in each type. Molecular mechanisms at play include, but are not limited to, histone modification, blocks to terminal differentiation, cell cycle activation, PI3K/AKT signaling activation, mTOR pathway activation, as well as a multitude of other signaling cascades. A common shared dysregulated pathway between GCB and ABC types include mutations in CREBBP and EP300, which is in approximately 30% of DLBCL cases and slightly enriched in the GCB group. Mutations/deletions in these genes result in inactivation and alter histone modification subsequently thought to contribute to acetylation of BCL6, which is a key regulatory protein in lymphomagenesis. Up to 33% of DLBCL have mutations in MLL2, which has a broad effect on chromatin regulation and epigenomic alteration. Approximately 35% of DLBCL cases with up to two- to three-fold increase in ABC type cases have genetic alterations in BCL6, particularly chromosomal rearrangements and mutations in the 5’ sequence. Pasqualucci et al also described other factors that lead to BCL6 inactivation, including mutations in MEF2B and FBXO11.4

ABC type DLBCL often displays canonical pathway activation of NF-ƙB signaling, which ultimately promotes survival, proliferation, and inhibition of apoptosis. This potentially is a result of alterations in the CBM signalosome (CARD11, BCL10, and MALT1) with up to 10% of ABC-DLBCL cases having a mutation in CARD11. Another modality of ABC activation is through the B-cell receptor signaling pathway in which 20% of cases harbor a CD79A or CD79B mutation.  Interestingly enough, recurring mutations in MYD88 occur in ~30% of ABC-DLBCLs, which results in upregulation of NF-kB and Janus kinase-signal transducers. Other important genetic alterations include involvement by signaling pathways of spleen tyrosine kinase (SYK), PI3K, Bruton tyrosine kinase (BTK), and protein kinase C-β (PKC-β).

GCB type DLBCL often expresses CD10, LMO2, and BCL6 and has a less understood and distinct pathway when compared to ABC-DLBCL. The most common alterations include t(14;18) IGH-BCL2 (30-40%), C-REL amplification (30%), EZH2 (20%) and PTEN mutations (10%). These changes are almost never seen in ABC-DLBCL.

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Adapted from Pasqualucci et al., Semin Hematol, April 2015

Although the findings in GCB and ABC type DLBCL are described, they are not absolute and multiple studies done by whole exome sequencing (WES) and whole genome sequencing (WGS) have elucidate further complexities and genetic changes. In 2015, data from Novak and colleagues revealed CNAs and mutations that were associated EFS, which also underscored the important 24 month milestone for survival.5 Morin et al in 2013 described 41 novel genes in DLBCL which demonstrated just how complex and heterogeneous DLBCL truly is (see figure below).6

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Adapted from Morin et al., Blood, 2013.

As common as DLBCL is, there is much to be understood not only for lymphomagenesis, but for correct classification and risk stratification. Many targeted therapies have been designed and are in trials at the moment, but given the nature of DLBCL and its heterogeneity, more work on the molecular front is needed. Modalities for assessing COO are currently on the market but are not widely used. Perhaps COO determination by IHC may be an antiquated method, but it is currently the standard by which most pathologists practice. Overall, DLBCL in all its forms is not a uniform entity that can easily be defeated, but requires thought and diligence in achieving a cure.

 

  1. Lohr, JG et al. “Discovery and prioritization of somatic mutations in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) by whole-exome sequencing,” Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2012; 109(10): 3879-3884
  2. Alizadeh AA, et al. “Distinct types of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma identified by gene expression profiling,” Nature 2000, 403:503-11
  3. Sehn, L and Gascoyne, R “Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma: optimizing outcome in the context of clinical and biologic heterogeneity,” Blood. 2015;125(1):22-32
  4. Pasqualucci, L and Dalla-Favera, Riccardo, “The Genetic Landscape of Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma,” Semin Hematol. 2015 April; 52(2): 67-76
  5. Novak, AJ et al. “Whole-exome analysis reveals novel somatic genomic alterations associated with outcome in immunochemotherapy-treated diffuse large B-cell lymphoma,” Blood Cancer Journal (2015) 5
  6. Morin, R et al. “Mutational and structural analysis of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma using whole-genome sequencing,” 2013;122(7):1256-1265

 

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-Phillip Michaels, MD is a board certified anatomic and clinical pathologist who is a current hematopathology fellow at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA. His research interests include molecular profiling of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma as well as pathology resident education, especially in hematopathology and molecular genetic pathology.

Microbiology Case Study: A 34 Year Old Female with Nausea, Vomiting, Diarrhea and Tender Extremities

Case History

A 34 year old female presented to the emergency department with a chief complaint of nausea, vomiting and diarrhea as well as tenderness in her extremities. These symptoms had been present for the previous 4 days with multiple episodes of diarrhea, associated low grade fevers & chills and she had poor oral intake as a result. Her past medical history was significant for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and chronic kidney disease. She has not be compliant with her anti-retroviral therapy and infectious disease prophylactic medications. Her vitals were within normal range and her physical exam elicited tenderness to palpation of her extremities and torso. No rashes and no erythema are seen. Routine laboratory tests as well as infectious disease work up, which included blood, stool & urine cultures, C. difficile and ova & parasite exam, were ordered. Notable findings included a slightly elevated white blood count (11.3 TH/cm2), creatinine of 7.1 mg/dL, HIV RNA viral load of 671 VC/mL and an absolute CD4 count of 7 cells/cm2. Two days after collection, her blood cultures were signaled as positive by the automated instrument.

Laboratory Identification

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Image 1. Gram stain from the blood culture bottles showed Gram negative cocci arranged in pairs (1000x oil immersion).
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Image 2. Small, whitish glistening colonies grew on blood and chocolate agars after 48 hours incubation in a 35°C incubator with 5% CO2.

The pathogen of interest grew from two sets of blood cultures and the direct Gram stain showed Gram negative cocci arranged in pairs (Image 1). After 48 hours incubation, small, whitish colonies were observed on blood and chocolate agars. No growth was seen on the MacConkey plate (Image 2). The isolate was positive for both catalase and oxidase. It was identified as Neisseria gonorrhoeae by both MALDI-TOF MS and a Vitek NH card.

Discussion

N. gonorrhoeae is the second most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the United States, only surpassed by Chlamydia trachomatis and they are often acquired together as a co-infection. Uncomplicated infections with N. gonorrhoeae typically present as acute urethritis with discharge. Asymptomatic infection occurs in 10% of males and upwards of 50% of females. As a result, females are at risk for the development of ascending infections and pelvic inflammatory disease leading to further reproductive issues. Disseminated gonococcal infection is uncommon (less than 1% of all gonococcal infections) but can occur and manifests as purulent arthritis with or without an accompanying dermatitis. In the case of our patient, her tenderness to palpation of the extremities could be a symptom of this disseminated septic arthritis.

In the laboratory, N. gonorrhoeae can be fastidious and requires special media such as chocolate, Martin-Lewis, modified Thayer-Martin or New York City agars as well as an enhanced CO2 environment in order to grow. The Gram stain of N. gonorrhoeae is described as Gram negative cocci with adjacent flattened sides and helpful biochemicals include catalase and oxidase (both positive).  Traditionally, in order to further speciate members of the Neisseria genus, sugar fermentation was necessary. N. gonorrhoeae only ferments glucose, while another notable member, N. meningitides, ferments both glucose and maltose.  Additionally, N. lactamica ferments glucose, maltose and lactose. Currently, commonly used methods of identification include API NH strips and automated instruments such as Vitek and MALDI-TOF MS.

Susceptibility testing for N. gonorrhoeae is usually limited to testing for beta-lactamase activity, although CLSI guidelines are available if deemed necessary. Current therapeutic guidelines recommend empiric treatment of uncomplicated infections with intramuscular ceftriaxone and oral azithromycin.

 

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-Kristen Adams, MD, is a fourth year Anatomic and Clinical Pathology resident at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. 

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-Lisa Stempak, MD, is an Assistant Professor of Pathology at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, MS. She is certified by the American Board of Pathology in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology as well as Medical Microbiology. She is the director of the Microbiology and Serology Laboratories.  Her interests include infectious disease histology, process and quality improvement and resident education. 

Microbiology Case Study: A 50 Year Old Male with Fever and Diarrhea

Case History

A 50 year old male initially presented with cold symptoms. He was seen and evaluated at urgent care, with suspicion for bronchitis, but with no improvement with albuterol. Physical exam raised a suspicion for bacterial sinusitis. The patient was treated with amoxicillin/clavulanic acid with little improvement, and he was admitted to the hospital a week later for fever and diarrhea. Blood cultures were obtained. He was initially treated with cefepime prior to the speciation of the culture, and then switched to erythromycin for a 7 day course.

Laboratory Identification

Blood cultures were positive for gram negative curved/spiral rods. Gram stain and colony morphology were consistent with Campylobacter which was confirmed as C. jejuni by MALDI-TOF.

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Image 1. Gram stain showing gram negative curved/spiral rods.

Discussion

C. jejuni are gram negative curved or spiral rods. Campy CVA agar is used for stool cultures because it is selective for Campylobacter and contains cefoperazone, vancomycin, and amphotericin B (CVA) which inhibit normal fecal flora. The media is incubated at 42°C under microaerophilic conditions, supporting the growth of Campylobacter jejuni and C. coli. C. jejuni is thermophilic, with growth on blood agar at 37°C and 42°C. Growth does not occur at 25°C. The colonies on blood agar are non-hemolytic, gray and smooth. Our isolate grew, albeit not happily, on blood and chocolate at 37°C with 5-10% CO2.

Infection is often transmitted by contaminated foods such as undercooked chicken. C. jejuni are most commonly associated with human infections however, C. coli have also been implicated. Guillain-Barre syndrome has been associated with patients following an infection with C. jejuni. It is not known how our patient was exposed. Macrolides are effective treatment modalities for C. jejuni, as well as fluoroquinolones, however, resistance to fluoroquinolones is increasing.

 

-Mustafa Mohammad, MD is a 3rd year anatomic and clinical pathology resident at the University of Vermont Medical Center.

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-Christi Wojewoda, MD, is the Director of Clinical Microbiology at the University of Vermont Medical Center and an Assistant Professor at the University of Vermont.

Microbiology Case Study: An 18 Year Old with Vaginal Discharge

Case Presentation

An 18 year old girl presents to her pediatrician with her mother for her pre-college check-up. She has no past medical history. After her mother leaves the room for the social history component, the girl admits to having sex with her boyfriend for the first time two weeks ago and complains of a yellow green malodorous vaginal discharge that started a week ago. She endorses mild pelvic pain. A pelvic exam is performed and mild cervical tenderness is noted. The cervix is pink, nulliparous, inflamed and is covered by small red punctate spots. A thin yellow green frothy discharge of fishy odor is also detected. A wet prep is made and reveals squamous cells and numerous motile organisms.

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Figure 1.  Trichomonas vaginalis in a Pap test. The protozoa are often found next to squamous cells. (ThinPrep)

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Figure 2.  Collection of Trichomonas vaginalis parasites eating at a squamous cell in a Pap (ThinPrep)

Discussion

Our patient was diagnosed with Trichomonas vaginalis (TV). TV is a flagellated parasitic protozoan for which humans are the only known host. It is 10-20 um long and 2-14 um wide with multiple flagella projecting from the anterior and posterior sides. It has a single trophozoite stage and does not survive well outside of its host. TV is a predatory obligate parasite that eats bacteria, vaginal epithelial cells, and red blood cells. It uses fermentative metabolism to produce the carbohydrates needed for fuel. TV is a sexually transmitted disease; however, because it is not reportable to local health departments, the true epidemiologic incidence rate is unknown. Its prevalence is highly variable by population and location. For example, some studies cite a prevalence of 3.1% of American pre-menopausal women (2.3% of adolescents) [1], while in certain high-risk populations the rate might be as high as 47% [2]. Most affected patients are asymptomatic; about a third of females become symptomatic within six months of infection. Symptoms for females include vulvar and vaginal irritation and itching, pain with urination and a diffuse, malodorous, yellow-green vaginal discharge. The cervix becomes reddened in a punctuated fashion causing the well-known strawberry cervix seen on colposcopy. In males, urethritis can develop. TV is often diagnosed via wet mount microscopy, where the protozoa can be seen moving around (Video 1). However, the sensitivity is relatively low, especially among males. Detection by nucleic acid probe from urine, endocervical, and vaginal swabs are considered more sensitive. TV can also be incidentally discovered on Pap tests (Figures 1 and 2). Treatment typically consists of a single dose of metronidazole [1,2]. It is critical that partners be treated as well, because otherwise reinfection may occur.

 

References

  1. Kissinger P. Trichomonas vaginalis: a review of epidemiologic, clinical and treatment issues. BMC Infectious Diseases. 2015; 15(307): 1-8.
  2. Meites E et al. A review of evidence-based care of symptomatic trichomoniasis and asymptomatic Trichomonas vaginalis infections. Clinical Infectious Diseases. 2015; 61(S8): S837-48.

 

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-Amanda Strickland, MD, is a 2nd year Anatomic and Clinical Pathology Resident at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Erin McElvania TeKippe, PhD, D(ABMM), is the Director of Clinical Microbiology at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas Texas and an Assistant Professor of Pathology and Pediatrics at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

 

Chemistry Case Study: Unexplained Metabolic Acidosis

Case Workup

A 24-year-old female at 34 weeks of gestation was transferred from an outside hospital with history of nephrolithiasis and right side pyelonephritis, for which she underwent stent placement 2 weeks ago. She started experiencing severe pain and muscle spasms in her hip and was unable to move her leg due to the pain. She had decreased appetite and also noted vomiting. Her bilirubin and aminotransferases were found to be elevated. Additionally, her blood gas analysis showed a bicarbonate of 9 mEq/L, pH of 7.2 with 99% SpO2. Our clinical chemistry team was consulted on her low pH.

Patient’s laboratory workup is shown in the table below. We first ruled out some common causes of metabolic acidosis, including lactic acidosis and diabetic ketoacidosis. Ingestion of toxic alcohols was ruled out based on normal osmolality and osmolar gap. Normal BUN, creatinine, and their ratio ruled out renal failure.

Positive urinary ketones were noted, with an elevated anion gap. Serum beta-hydroxybutyrate was therefore measured and a result of 3.0 mmol/L (ref: <0.4 mmol/L) confirmed ketoacidosis. Patient had no history of diabetes and no recent alcohol consumption. On the basis of excluding other causes, and also considering her decreased appetite and recurrent vomiting, it is believed that ketoacidosis was caused by “starvation.”

Test Result Ref * Test Result Ref *
Albumin 2.0 3.5 – 5.0 g/dL pH 7.24 7.32-7.42
ALK 139 35 – 104 U/L pCO2 (V) 21 45-51 mmHg
ALT 177 5 – 50 U/L pO2 (V) 46 25-40 mmHg
AST 159 10 – 35 U/L O2 Sat (V) 72 40 – 70 %
Total Bili 2.0 0.0 – 1.2 mg/dL Glucose 74 65-99 mg/dL
Direct Bili 1.5 0.0 – 0.3 mg/dL Urine ketones 2+ Negative
Lactic acid 0.9 0.5 – 2.2 mmol/L Urine protein 2+ Negative
Protein 6.0 6.3 – 8.3 g/dL Chloride 104 98-112 mEq/L
Sodium 138 135-148 mEq/L CO2 9 24-31 mEq/L
Potassium 4.6 3.5-5.0 mEq/L Anion gap 25 7-15 mEq/L
Creatinine 0.6 0.5 – 0.9 mg/dL eGFR >90  >90 mL/min/1.73 m2
BUN 8 6 – 20 mg/dL Osmolality 286 275 – 295 mOsm/kg

* Reference ranges are for normal adults, not for pregnant women.

Discussion

With optimal glucose level and sufficient insulin secretion, glucose is converted by glycolysis to pyruvate, which is then converted into acetyl-CoA and subsequently into the citric acid cycle to release chemical energy in the form of ATP. When glucose availability becomes limited, fatty acid is used as an alternative fuel source to generate acetyl-CoA. Ketone bodies are generated in this process, and their accumulation result in metabolic acidosis. In healthy individual, fasting is seldom suspected to be the cause of metabolic acidosis. Sufficient insulin secretion prevents significant free fatty acid accumulation. However, under certain conditions when there is a relatively large glucose requirement or with physiologic stress, 12 to 14 hour fast could lead to significant ketone bodies formation, resulting in overt ketoacidosis (1-3).

Ketoacidosis is most commonly seen in patients with diabetic ketoacidosis. Similar metabolic changes are seen with poor dietary intake or prolonged fasting and resulting acidosis is referred to as “starvation ketoacidosis” (2). During pregnancy, especially in late pregnancy, there is an increased risk for starvation ketoacidosis, due to reduced peripheral insulin sensitivity, enhanced lipolysis, and increased ketogenesis. In this setting, short period of starvation can precipitate ketoacidosis (1-2, 4). Other cases described with starvation ketoacidosis include patients on strict low-carbohydrate diet (5-6), young infants after fasting (7), and patients with prolonged fasting before surgery (3).

Although starvation ketoacidosis is rare, healthcare provider should be aware of this entity especially in pregnant patients, because late recognition and delay in treatment are associated with a greater risk for impaired neurodevelopment and fetal loss (2). Moreover, given the popularity of low-carbohydrate diet nowadays, starvation ketoacidosis should be considered when assessing patient’s acid-base imbalance in conjunction with their dietary lifestyles.

References

  1. Frise CJ,Mackillop L, Joash K, Williamson C. Starvation ketoacidosis in pregnancy. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2013 Mar;167(1):1-7.
  2. Sinha N,Venkatram S, Diaz-Fuentes G. Starvation ketoacidosis: a cause of severe anion gap metabolic acidosis in pregnancy. Case Rep Crit Care. 2014;2014:906283.
  3. Mostert M, Bonavia A. Starvation Ketoacidosis as a Cause of Unexplained Metabolic Acidosis in the Perioperative Period. Am J Case Rep. 2016; 17: 755–758.
  4. Mahoney CA. Extreme gestational starvation ketoacidosis: case report and review of pathophysiology. Am J Kidney Dis. 1992 Sep;20(3):276-80.
  5. Shah P,Isley WL. Ketoacidosis during a low-carbohydrate diet. N Engl J Med. 2006 Jan 5;354(1):97-8.
  6. Chalasani S, Fischer J. South Beach Diet associated ketoacidosis: a case report. J Med Case Rep. 2008;2:45. Epub 2008 Feb 11.
  7. Toth HL, Greenbaum LA. Severe acidosis caused by starvation and stress. Am J Kidney Dis. 2003;42(5):E16.

 

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-Xin Yi, PhD, DABCC, FACB is a board-certified clinical chemist. She currently serves as the Co-director of Clinical Chemistry at Houston Methodist Hospital in Houston, TX and an Assistant Professor of Clinical Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College.

Microbiology Case Study: A 58 Year Old Female with Lung Nodules

Case History

A 58 year old female with past medical history significant for Type II diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, chronic diastolic heart failure, and hypothyroidism was hospitalized for following a fall and was found to have compression fractures. The hospitalization was complicated by flash pulmonary edema requiring intubation. CT chest obtained during this hospitalization demonstrated lung nodules, which were biopsied and cultured.

Laboratory Identification

The bacterial and mycobacterial cultures grew gram positive bacilli which were positive on Modified Kinyoun stain. They were negative for Auramine/Rhodamine. The organism grew on several media, including 7H11, Chocolate, and Buffered Charcoal Yeast Extract (BCYE). They formed chalky, white-pink colonies. The organism was confirmed as Nocardia nova by a reference laboratory.

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Image 1. Modified acid fast bacilli on Modified Kinyoun stain.

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Image 2. Chalky white-pink colonies on BCYE agar.

Discussion

Nocardia nova is a weakly acid fast, aerobic filamentous, beaded, gram positive bacilli with right-angled branching. It is identified by a Modified Kinyoun stain. Nocardia grows best on BCYE agar; however it also can grow within 3-5 days on blood and chocolate agar. It forms chalky white-pink colonies. Molecular testing is performed to speciate Nocardia, primarily 16S ribosomal RNA gene sequencing, as well as mass spectrometry. Most infections can be treated with sulfonamides for 6-12 months, however, the CDC recommends performing speciation and susceptibility testing on every isolate due to specific susceptibility profiles and drug resistant strains. Our patient was treated with high dose sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim and meropenem.

Nocardia nova is commonly found in soil and is one of several pathogenic Nocardia species. Nocardia is often inhaled and presents as a chronic pulmonary infection with cough, shortness of breath, and fever. Nocardia can also cause pleural effusions, empyema, pericarditis, abscesses, or dissemination to deep organs, especially the brain. Nocardia can also be contracted though trauma, causing cutaneous diseases such as a mycetoma or cellulitis. Because of its low virulence, Nocardia generally affects immunocompromised patients, however those with preexisting pulmonary disease can also be susceptible to infection.

 

-Mustafa Mohammad, MD is a 3rd year anatomic and clinical pathology resident at the University of Vermont Medical Center.

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-Christi Wojewoda, MD, is the Director of Clinical Microbiology at the University of Vermont Medical Center and an Assistant Professor at the University of Vermont.

Hematopathology Case Study: A 69 Year Old Female with Persistent Monocytosis

Case History

A 69 year old female with a past medical history significant for endometrial adenocarcinoma, traumatic brain injury, atrial fibrillation, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and persistent monocytosis (absolute monocyte count ranging from 1.6-3.7 K/uL) who had an indeterminate lesion identified in the T5 vertebra, read as “hemangioma, although surrounding edema is worrisome for malignancy” upon staging imaging for history of endometrial carcinoma.

CBC at the time was: WBC 9.8; HGB 12.9; HCT 37.6; PLT 154; MCV 92 fL; MCH 31.7.

Automated differential showed: 43.0 Neutrophils; 34.8 Lymphocytes; 20.0 Monocytes; 1.4 Eosinophils; 0.2 Basophils; 0.6 Immature granulocytes.

Absolute monocyte count was 1.95 K/uL.

This lesion was biopsied and given the findings, a subsequent bone marrow biopsy was performed on 5/4/2017. The bone marrow core biopsy contained multiple compact aggregates of spindle shaped cells with hypogranular cytoplasm, morphologically compatible with atypical mast cells. Within these aggregates, numerous eosinophils are present. By immunohistochemistry, the mast cells are brightly positive for CD117 and mast cell tryptase. Concurrent bone marrow aspirate flow cytometry demonstrated a small population of mast cells that co-expressed CD2 and CD25.

Of note, the patient was found to have a persistent absolute monocytosis. Flow cytometry revealed an abnormal population of monocytes that displayed aberrant phenotypic expression of CD2 and CD56 (subset).

Next-generation sequencing revealed two truncation mutations in the TET2 gene (K988* in 34.6% of the reads and Q1138* in 36.4% of the reads). Cytogenetic analysis revealed a normal female karyotype (46,XX).

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Overall, an immunophenotypically abnormal population of mast cells and monocytes are present in the context of a long-standing absolute monocytosis and the presence of two TET2 truncating mutations, supporting a diagnosis of systemic mastocytosis with an associated hematologic non-mast cell lineage disorder (best classified as chronic myelomonocytic leukemia).

Discussion

A diagnosis of systemic mastocytosis is a combination of clinical, morphologic, immunophenotypic, and molecular analyses, as required by the World Health Organization (WHO 2008). By current consensus guidelines, SM variants are partly distinguished by clinicopathologic criteria referred collectively as B and C findings. B findings include: >30% of bone marrow mast cells (MC) on biopsy and/or serum tryptase levels >200 ng/mL; increased marrow cellularity/dysplasia without meeting diagnostic criteria for another myeloid neoplasm; or enlargement of liver, spleen, or lymph nodes without evidence of organ damage. C findings include: evidence of organ damage caused by a local MC infiltrate, such as abnormal liver function and/or ascites, hypersplenism, cytopenias, large osteolytic lesions/fractures, and malabsorption with weight loss caused by MC infiltrate in the gastrointestinal tract.

Systemic mastocytosis commonly occurs in two types with different clinical courses based upon the aforementioned findings. Indolent SM (ISM) is defined by the absence of C findings. Smoldering SM is a subtype of ISM that displays 2 or more B findings. ISM may become more aggressive and a descriptive term of advanced SM refers to a category including aggressive SM (ASM), mast cell leukemia (MCL), and “SM with an associated myeloid neoplasm.” The latter entity comprises more than 90% of cases that have previously been referred to as SM with an associated hematologic non-mast cell lineage disorder (SH-AHNMD).

ASM and MCL are characterized by organ damage and histologic characteristics. ASM often exhibits multifocal bone marrow infiltration of atypical mast cells that are often spindled in shape with hypogranular or immature morphology. Marked fibrosis often accompanies the infiltrate as well as a KIT D816V mutation. MCL is codified by more than 20% of the marrow aspirate nucleated cells represent by mast cells and on core biopsy, a compact infiltrate is often identified with usually low level fibrosis. In MCL, circulating mast cells are greater than 10% of nucleated cells but according to Gotlib et al., the aleukemic MCL (less than 10% circulating mast cells) is more common.

In the context of our patient, myeloid neoplasms associated with SM are often represented by MDS, MPN, or MDS/MPN overlap disorders, and occasionally AML.

Associated lymphoid or plasma cell neoplasms have been described, but in a much lower frequency.

In accordance with the diagnostic implications, KIT D816V mutational analysis is important therapeutically. Most patients with SM harbor the KIT D816V mutation (>80% in one clinical series; 90-100% in research studies using purified MCs), which is a considered imatinib-resistant mutation. Midostaurin (a second generation TKI) may provide some disease response while nilotinib or dasatinib are usually less likely to lead to a durable response. The rare patients who have a juxtamembrane domain KIT mutation are much more likely to respond to imatinib or masitinib.

For disease response, criteria were first published in 2003 by Valent, et al. In a reiterated version published in 2007, the evaluation of clinical evidence of organ damage (C findings), was the foundation for determining appropriate response. Another facet to determining response was in relation to BM MC burden, serum tryptase level, and organomegaly, which further subcategorized the levels of major response (MR). MR was defined as normalization of 1 or more C findings. In turn, MR was divided into 3 categories:

  1. Complete remission (resolution of MC infiltrates in organs, serum tryptase less than 20 ng/mL, and disappearance of SM-associated organomegaly)
  2. Incomplete remission (decrease in MC infiltrates in organs and/or serum tryptase levels and/or visible regression of organomegaly by >50%)
  3. Pure clinical response (without decrease in MC infiltrates, serum tryptase levels, or organomegaly)

Partial response (PR) is defined as incomplete regression of 1 or more C findings and include good partial response (GPR; >50% regression of 1 or more C findings) and minor response (<50% regression).

Lastly, the Mayo Clinic published revised response criteria in 2010 which established minimal baseline laboratory abnormalities for organ damage to be evaluated in order to allow for more accurate assessment of response to therapy that is clinically more relevant.

Overall, systemic mastocytosis is a rare entity that displays a range of presentations that can be described as indolent up to an aggressive (advanced) phenotype. The hallmarks for diagnosis include histologic, immunophenotypic, molecular, and clinical findings.

 

References

  1. Gotlib, J et al. “International Working Group-Myeloproliferative Neoplasms Research and Treatment (IWG-MRT) & European Competence Network on Mastocytosis (ECNM) consensus response criteria in advanced systemic mastocytosis,” Blood, 2012.
  2. Horny HP et al. “Mastocytosis,” In: Swerdlow S et al. WHO Classification of Tumours of Haematopoietic and Lymphoid Tissues. Lyon: IARC Press; 2008:53-63
  3. Valent P et al. “Aggressive systemic mastocytosis and related mast cell disorders: current treatment options and proposed response criteria.” Leuk Res. 2003;27(7):635-641.
  4. Pardanani A, et al. “A critical reappraisal of treatment response criteria in systemic mastocytosis and a proposal for revisions. Eur J Haematol. 2010;84(5):371-378.

 

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-Phillip Michaels, MD is a board certified anatomic and clinical pathologist who is a current hematopathology fellow at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA. His research interests include molecular profiling of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma as well as pathology resident education, especially in hematopathology and molecular genetic pathology.