Aberrant expression of CD5 has been reported in 5-10% of diffuse large B-cell lymphomas (DLBCLs). CD5+ DLBCL had been recognized as an aggressive immunophenotypic subgroup of DLBCL in the 2008 WHO classification of haematolymphoid neoplasm; however, it was eliminated from the list of subgroups of DLBCLs in the revised 2016 classification. Nevertheless, there is much controversy regarding the clinical significance of CD5 expression, and many researchers still assert that this subgroup exhibits an extremely unfavorable prognosis with frequent treatment failure. We retrospectively investigated 405 DLBCLs recruited from three university hospitals in Korea from 1997 to 2013. The clinical profile, immunophenotype, and chromosomal structural alterations of the BCL2 and MYC genes were compared according to CD5 expression. A total of 29 cases of de novo CD5+ DLBCL were identified out of 405 in our series (7.4%). Clinicopathologic correlation was performed in all 29 CD5+ DLBCLs and 166 CD5- DLBCLs which were eligible for full clinical review and further pathologic examination. Compared with CD5- counterparts, CD5+ DLBCLs showed female preponderance, frequent bone marrow involvement, higher lactate dehydrogenase level, advanced Ann Arbor stages and poorer prognosis (all p<0.05). Pathologically, the expression of CD5 positively correlated with that of BCL2, MYC and Ki-67 (all p<0.05). Coexpression of BCL2 and MYC, which is referred to as a double-expressor, was relatively more common in CD5+ DLBCL, whereas translocation or amplification of these genes was very rare. in conclusion, the expression of CD5 is an independent poor prognostic factor of DLBCLs, and this subgroup displays unique clinicopathologic features. Although the exact mechanism remains uncertain, consistent activation of BCL2 and MYC by alternative pathways other than chromosomal translocation may contribute to the pathogenesis.
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