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Developmental Immunology
Volume 6 (1998), Issue 3-4, Pages 187-196

CD40 Ligand and Autoantigen Are Involved in the Pathogenesis of Low-Grade B-Cell Lymphomas of Mucosa-Associated Lymphoid Tissue

1Institute of Pathology, University of Würzburg, Germany
2Robert-Koch-Institut, Berlin, Germany
3Institut für Pathologie der Univerisitãt Würzburg, Josef-Schneider str. 2, Würzburg 97080, Germany

Received 12 October 1996

Copyright © 1998 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Low-grade MALT-type lymphomas are malignancies of mucosal marginal-zone B cells and preceded by reactive inflammatory lymphoid tissue. Experimental observations suggest that antigen and CD40 Ligand act during cognate T/B cell interaction and are crucial for germinal center B-cell maturation generating marginal-zone B cells. To investigate the mechanisms underlying the development of extranodal MALT-type lymphomas, the immunoglobulin receptor was sequenced and analyzed for antigen specificity using heterohybridoma technology. Furthermore, CD40 ligand expression was evaluated by immunohistochemistry and by semiquantitative RT-PCR, and ligand binding to the CD40 of tumor B cells was studied using the CD40 system. Hypermutations were found in low-grade lymphomas throughout CDR1- CDR3 suggestive of positive selection through their antigen receptor. Different VH families were used and more than 69% of tumor immunoglobulins bound different mucosal antigens. CD40L expression was found in the tumor marginal zone in substantial amounts. The in vitro proliferation response of all low-grade MALT-type lymphomas was dependent on anti-CD40- mediated signals and cytokines. Our data provide evidence that autoantigen as well as the CD40L expressed by activated nonneoplastic T cells may drive the evolution of low-grade MALT-type lymphomas either directly or by paracrine mechanisms and that antigen may contribute to lymphoma pathogenesis.