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Frequency, interobserver reproducibility and clinical significance of equivocal peaks in PCR clonality testing using Euroclonality/BIOMED-2 primers


Aims PCR studies for lymphoid clonality are now widely employed, especially using Euroclonality/BIOMED-2 primers. Criteria for interpretation as a clonal result, however, have proven controversial. This study examines the frequency and clinical significance of equivocal amplification patterns and measures the interobserver reproducibility of clonality interpretations.

Methods At our institution, results of each primer set are first classified as clonal, non-clonal or abnormal (equivocal peak on polyclonal background). Final results for all primer sets are then collectively reported as positive (≥1 clonal result), negative (non-clonal results) or indeterminate (≥1 abnormal result) for a clonal population. Results of 274 consecutive clonality cases were reviewed, and the interobserver reproducibility of individual primer set reactions and final results was determined in a subset of 30 cases.

Results 44/161 (27%) B-cell and 50/163 (31%) T-cell cases contained at least one abnormal peak. Of these, 29 (64%) and 31 (62%), respectively, showed clonal results in another primer set. Interobserver reproducibility was excellent for most primer sets and for final interpretations, but only fair to good for IGK V-J and TCRB D-J1+2 primer sets. A definitive diagnosis of lymphoma was rendered in 93%, 20% and 6% of B-cell cases and 90%, 42%, and 14% of T-cell cases positive, indeterminate or negative for a clonal population, respectively.

Conclusions Using a subjective approach, abnormal (equivocal) peaks are frequently observed in routine practice. However, most cases with abnormal peaks contain clonal rearrangements in other primer sets, facilitating overall interpretation of final results with excellent interobserver reproducibility.

  • PCR

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