Splenic marginal zone lymphoma

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Splenic marginal zone lymphoma
Classification and external resources
ICD-9 200.3
ICD-O: M9689/3
GeneReviews 2=

Splenic marginal zone lymphoma (SMZL) is a lymphoma made up of B-cells that replace the normal architecture of the white pulp of the spleen. The neoplastic cells are both small lymphocytes and larger, transformed blasts, and they invade the mantle zone of splenic follicles and erode the marginal zone, ultimately invading the red pulp of the spleen. Frequently, the bone marrow and splenic hilar lymph nodes are involved along with the peripheral blood. The neoplastic cells circulating in the peripheral blood are termed villous lymphocytes due to their characteristic appearance.[1]



Under older classification systems, the following names were used:[1]

Classification system Name
Rappaport well-differentiated lymphocytic lymphoma
Lukes-Collins small lymphocytic lymphoma
Working Formulation small lymphocytic lymphoma
FAB splenic lymphoma with circulating villous lymphocytes


The cell of origin is postulated to be a post-germinal center B-cell with an unknown degree of differentiation.[1]


With splenic involvement a requirement for a diagnosis of SMZL, splenomegaly is seen in almost all patients, commonly without lymphadenopathy.[1] Aside from the uniform involvement of the spleen, the bone marrow is frequently positive in patients with SMZL. Nodal and extranodal involvement are rare.[1]

Circulating lymphoma cells are sometimes present in peripheral blood, and they occasionally show short villi at the poles of cells and plasmacytoid differentiation.[2]

Autoimmune thrombocytopenia and anemia sometimes seen in patients with SMZL. Circulating villous lymphocytes are sometimes observed in peripheral blood samples.[1] A monoclonal paraprotein is detected in a third of patients without hypergammaglobulinemia or hyperviscosity.[3][4]

Reactive germinal centers in splenic white pulp are replaced by small neoplastic lymphocytes that efface the mantle zone and ultimately blend in with the marginal zone with occasional larger neoplastic cells that resemble blasts.[4][5] The red pulp is always involved, with both nodules of larger neoplastic cells and sheets of the small neoplastic lymphocytes. Other features that may been seen include sinus invasion, epithelial histocytes, and plasmacytic differentiation of neoplastic cells.

Involved hilar lymph nodes adjacent to the spleen show an effaced architecture without preservation of the marginal zone seen in the spleen.[1]

SMZL in bone marrow displays a nodular pattern with morphology similar to what is observed in the splenic hilar lymph nodes.[6]

Molecular Findings


Antigen Status
CD20 Positive
CD79a Positive
CD5 Negative
CD10 Negative
CD23 Negative
CD43 Negative
cyclin D1 Negative

The relevant markers that define the immunophenotype for SMZL are shown in the table to the right.[7] [8] The lack of CD5 expression is helpful in the discrimination between SMZL and chronic lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocytic lymphoma, and the lack of CD10 expression argues against follicular lymphoma. Mantle cell lymphoma is excluded due to the lack of CD5 and cyclin-D1 expression.[9]


Clonal rearrangements of the immunoglobulin genes (heavy and light chains) are frequently seen.[10] The deletion 7q21-32 is seen in 40% of SMZL patients, and translocations of the CDK6 gene located at 7q21 have also been reported.[11]


Less than 1% of all lymphomas are splenic marginal zone lymphomas[12] and it is postulated that SMZL may represent a large fraction of unclasssifiable CD5- chronic lymphocytic leukemias.[1] The typical patient is over the age of 50, and gender preference has been described.[3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Elaine Sarkin Jaffe, Nancy Lee Harris, World Health Organization, International Agency for Research on Cancer, Harald Stein, J.W. Vardiman (2001). Pathology and genetics of tumours of haematopoietic and lymphoid tissues. World Health Organization Classification of Tumors. 3. Lyon: IARC Press. ISBN 92-832-2411-6. http://books.google.com.au/books?id=XSKqcy7TUZUC. 
  2. Melo JV, Hegde U, Parreira A, Thompson I, Lampert IA, Catovsky D (June 1987). "Splenic B cell lymphoma with circulating villous lymphocytes: differential diagnosis of B cell leukaemias with large spleens". J. Clin. Pathol. 40 (6): 642–51. doi:10.1136/jcp.40.6.642. PMID 3497180. PMC 1141055. http://jcp.bmj.com/cgi/pmidlookup?view=long&pmid=3497180. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Berger F, Felman P, Thieblemont C, et al. (March 2000). "Non-MALT marginal zone B-cell lymphomas: a description of clinical presentation and outcome in 124 patients". Blood 95 (6): 1950–6. PMID 10706860. http://www.bloodjournal.org/cgi/pmidlookup?view=long&pmid=10706860. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Mollejo M, Menárguez J, Lloret E, et al. (October 1995). [Expression error: Missing operand for > "Splenic marginal zone lymphoma: a distinctive type of low-grade B-cell lymphoma. A clinicopathological study of 13 cases"]. Am. J. Surg. Pathol. 19 (10): 1146–57. PMID 7573673. 
  5. Jaffe ES, Costa J, Fauci AS, Cossman J, Tsokos M (November 1983). [Expression error: Missing operand for > "Malignant lymphoma and erythrophagocytosis simulating malignant histiocytosis"]. Am. J. Med. 75 (5): 741–9. doi:10.1016/0002-9343(83)90402-3. PMID 6638043. 
  6. Franco V, Florena AM, Campesi G (December 1996). [Expression error: Missing operand for > "Intrasinusoidal bone marrow infiltration: a possible hallmark of splenic lymphoma"]. Histopathology 29 (6): 571–5. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2559.1996.d01-536.x. PMID 8971565. 
  7. Isaacson PG, Matutes E, Burke M, Catovsky D (1 December 1994). "The histopathology of splenic lymphoma with villous lymphocytes". Blood 84 (11): 3828–34. PMID 7949139. http://www.bloodjournal.org/cgi/pmidlookup?view=long&pmid=7949139. 
  8. Matutes E, Morilla R, Owusu-Ankomah K, Houlihan A, Catovsky D (15 March 1994). "The immunophenotype of splenic lymphoma with villous lymphocytes and its relevance to the differential diagnosis with other B-cell disorders". Blood 83 (6): 1558–62. PMID 8123845. http://www.bloodjournal.org/cgi/pmidlookup?view=long&pmid=8123845. 
  9. Savilo E, Campo E, Mollejo M, et al. (July 1998). [Expression error: Missing operand for > "Absence of cyclin D1 protein expression in splenic marginal zone lymphoma"]. Mod. Pathol. 11 (7): 601–6. PMID 9688179. 
  10. Dunn-Walters DK, Boursier L, Spencer J, Isaacson PG (June 1998). [Expression error: Missing operand for > "Analysis of immunoglobulin genes in splenic marginal zone lymphoma suggests ongoing mutation"]. Hum. Pathol. 29 (6): 585–93. doi:10.1016/S0046-8177(98)80007-5. PMID 9635678. 
  11. Corcoran MM, Mould SJ, Orchard JA, et al. (November 1999). [Expression error: Missing operand for > "Dysregulation of cyclin dependent kinase 6 expression in splenic marginal zone lymphoma through chromosome 7q translocations"]. Oncogene 18 (46): 6271–7. doi:10.1038/sj.onc.120303310.1038/sj.onc.1203033 (inactive 2009-06-29). PMID 10597225. 
  12. Armitage JO, Weisenburger DD (August 1998). "New approach to classifying non-Hodgkin's lymphomas: clinical features of the major histologic subtypes. Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma Classification Project". J. Clin. Oncol. 16 (8): 2780–95. PMID 9704731. http://www.jco.org/cgi/pmidlookup?view=long&pmid=9704731. 
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