The human germinal-center-associated lymphoma (HGAL) gene and its cognate protein are expressed in a germinal center (GC)-specific manner. Its expression in classic Hodgkin lymphoma (cHL) prompted us to address whether HGAL expression could distinguish biologically distinct subgroups of cHL. Tissue microarrays from 145 patients treated with curative intent showed HGAL staining in 75% and was closely correlated with MUM1/ IRF4 (92%) expression. BCL6 (26%), CD10 (0%), BCL2 (31%), Blimp1 (0.02%), and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) (20%) showed no specific correlation; neither did phospho-STAT6, a key mediator of IL-4 and IL-13 signaling that induces HGAL and is implicated in cHL pathogenesis. In our study cohort, the 5-year overall survival (OS) correlated with young age (less than 45 years, P < .001), low stage (stage I and II, P = .04), and low International Prognostic Score (P = .002). In univariate analysis, HGAL expression was associated with improved OS (P = .01) and failure-free survival (FFS) (P = .05) but was not independent of other factors in multivariate analysis of OS or FFS. The expression of the GC-specific marker HGAL in a subset of cHL suggests that these cHLs retain characteristics of GC-derived lymphomas. The association with improved OS in univariate but not multivariate analysis suggests that HGAL expression is related to known clinical parameters of improved survival.
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