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Indolent cutaneous CD8+ lymphoid proliferation pathology

Author: Assoc Prof Patrick Emanuel, Dermatopathologist, Auckland, New Zealand. January 2015.

Table of contents

Indolent cutaneous CD8+ lymphoid proliferation is a recently described rare entity among cutaneous T-cell lymphomas that typically presents with solitary skin lesions on the face or at acral sites.

Histology of indolent cutaneous CD8+ lymphoid proliferation

Histologically, indolent CD8+ lymphoid proliferations are characterised by a dense dermal infiltrate of non-epidermotropic, medium sized pleomorphic lymphocytes. These form a dense mass in the dermis and may involve subcutaneous tissues (figures 1-5).

Indolent cutaneous CD8+ lymphoid proliferation pathology

Special studies for indolent cutaneous CD8+ lymphoid proliferation

The T-cells stain with CD3 and CD8 (figure 6). There is minimal staining with CD4. Other T-cell markers are variably expressed. CD68 is positive in most cases.

T-cell receptor gene rearrangement may be demonstrated with rearrangement studies.

Differential diagnosis of indolent cutaneous CD8+ lymphoid proliferation

Aggressive cutaneous CD8 positive lymphoma – These do not usually present as single tumours/plaques. CD68 is typically negative and is thought to be a helpful distinguishing feature.

Mycosis fungoides – Clinical presentation is key in distinguishing this entity from tumour stage mycosis fungoides. If the patient has a past history of mycosis fungoides, caution should be take in diagnosing cutaneous small-medium pleomorphic T-cell lymphoma.

T-cell pseudolymphoma – May be similar and many cases may have been called pseudolymphoma in the past. Immunohistochemical studies and T-cell gene rearrangement studies may be helpful to illustrate a clonal population.

Cutaneous small–medium pleomorphic T-cell lymphoma – This entity is composed predominantly of CD4 positive cells. Some authors question whether this is a related entity (given similar benign presentation and course).



  • Wobser M, et al. CD68 expression is a discriminative feature of indolent cutaneous CD8-positive lymphoid proliferation and distinguishes this lymphoma subtype from other CD8-positive cutaneous lymphomas. Br J Dermatol. 2014 Dec 18. doi: 10.1111/bjd.13628. PubMed

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