Cell surface beta 2-microglobulin (beta 2m) densities of malignant B cells were determined by enzyme immunoassay in 97 cases of immunologically defined lymphoproliferative disease. Absolute beta 2m densities were found to depend on disease category with the lowest levels found on cells from chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (mean = 5.6 ng/10(6) cells, n = 27); atypical chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (mean = 5.9 ng/10(6) cells, n = 8); and prolymphocytoid chronic lymphocytic leukaemia variant (mean = 6.0 ng/10(6) cells, n = 16). beta 2m densities for B non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (n = 14) and B prolymphocytic leukaemia (n = 17) cases were 8.1 and 10.0 ng/10(6) cells, respectively, and the highest densities were found on cells from "late-B cell" tumours (mean = 14.3 ng/10(6) cells). Plasma cells from cases of Ig secreting tumours expressed unexpectedly low beta 2m densities (mean = 9.3 ng/10(6) cells; n = 6).
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