CD56 is an important marker for prospecting clinicopathologic features of cytotoxic T-cell and natural killer (NK)/T-cell lymphomas. We examined 22 cases of subcutaneous panniculitis-like lymphoma and classified these into CD56-positive and CD56-negative groups. The 11 CD56-negative cases were mainly in the younger age group and had systemic subcutaneous nodules without ulceration. They exhibited subcutaneous invasion by medium-sized lymphoma cells, scattered erythrophagocytosis patchy necrosis, and little tumor invasion in the superficial dermis. Their lymphoma cells had characteristics of CD3ε-, CD8-, TcRβF1-, T-cell intracellular antigen (TIA) 1-, and granenzyme B-positive cytotoxic T cells and were negative for apoptosis-promoting proteins CD95 (Fas), Bax, CPP32 (caspase 3), and p53 (DO7). Ten patients were alive despite clinical signs of hemophagocytic syndrome and relapses in 7 cases. The 11 CD56-positive cases had systemic ulcerative skin tumors composed of pleomorphic lymphoma cells with massive necrosis and little erythrophagocytosis involving the subcutis and also often the whole dermis. Their tumor cells were positive for CD3ε, TIA1, granenzyme B, CD95, CD95L (Fas ligand), Bax, and CPP32. Three cases were of the TcRβF1-positive phenotype, 1 was of the TcRγ/δ-positive T-cell phenotype, and 6 were of the TcRβF1- and TcRγ/δ-negative NK/T-cell phenotype. Six cases were p53 (DO7) positive. Seven cases had complications of liver dysfunction and cytopenia, and 8 died of disease. One CD56-negative case and 3 CD56-positive cases had nuclear signals of Epstein-Barr virus-encoded RNA in their lymphoma cells. The 2 groups had significantly (P <0.01) different prognoses by Kaplan-Meier and log-rank methods. Patients with CD56-negative and CD56-positive groups had statistically different clinicopathologic, immunohistologic and functional findings and prognoses.
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