An immunoperoxidase technique for the optical microscopic detection of cellular immunoglobulin has been used to stain fixed smears of human neoplastic B lymphoid cells. Only four out of 28 cases of chronic lymphatic leukaemia (CLL) showed membrane labelling by this technique. In contrast, when 14 samples from other types of B lymphoproliferative disorder (including hairy cell leukaemia, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and prolymphocytic leukaemia) were studied, all samples showed membrane immunoglobulin labelling (confirmed by capping experiments). This discrepancy was attributed to the greater density of surface immunoglobulin present on neoplastic cells in the latter group of disorders compared to CLL. This immunoperoxidase technique is therefore less sensitive than immunofluorescent staining of cells in suspension for the demonstration of neoplastic cell surface immunoglobulin. However, it offers a number of advantages (eg, excellent visualisation of cell morphology, permanence of stained preparations, and applicability to stored samples) which recommend it as the method of choice in certain clinical haematological contexts.
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