Differentiating malignant B-lymphoblasts from early benign B cell precursors (hematogones) is a vital component of the diagnosis of B-lymphoblastic leukaemia. It has been previously reported that only late-stage B cell precursors circulate in the peripheral blood. Consequently, flow cytometric detection of cells with immunophenotypic findings similar to earlier stage precursors in the peripheral blood justifiably raises concern for involvement by B-lymphoblastic leukaemia. We report here, however, that benign early B cell precursors can indeed be detected in the peripheral blood, thus complicating the interpretation of flow cytometric findings derived from these sample types. A retrospective search of our collective databases identified 13 cases containing circulating early stage B cell precursors. The patients ranged in age from 15 days to 85 years old. All positive cases demonstrated that the earlier B cell precursors were associated with later stage precursors, a finding that could help differentiate these cells from B-lymphoblastic leukaemia.
- flow cytometry
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Handling editor Mary Frances McMullin.
Contributors The idea for this manuscript was conceived by OKW, who submitted cases from her affiliated institutions: Boston Children’s Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. JHK contributed cases from Stanford Health Care and Stanford Children’s Health. JHK analysed the data and wrote the manuscript.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent Not required.
Ethics approval The study was approved by the Stanford University, Boston Children’s Hospital, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital Institutional Review boards.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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