An 8-yr-old nonallergic girl with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma had markedly elevated serum IgE at presentation (greater than 10,000 IU/ml), negative skin tests to a battery of 24 common allergens, and no evidence of parasitic infestation. Serum levels of IgG, IgA, and IgM were normal. Remission after cytotoxic chemotherapy was accompanied by a marked reduction in serum IgE levels (to less than 200 IU/ml) with no change in the level of serum IgG, IgM, or IgA. Recurrence of the lymphoma 7 mo after remission was accompanied by an isotype specific rise in serum IgE (to 3,850 IU/ml). Isoelectric focusing revealed that the IgE was polyclonal. Phenotypic analysis of the lymphoma obtained during relapse revealed all (greater than 98%) cells to be T3+, T4+, and T8+. Incubation of lymphoma cells with human myeloma IgE followed by immunosorbent purified fluorescein tagged goat anti-human IgE (anti-IgE PS-adsorbed over IgE ADZ) stained 25% of the cells. In contrast, less than 1% of the cells were stained after incubation with human IgG followed by fluorescein conjugated goat anti-human IgE. Supernatants from lymphoma cells (5 X 10(6)/ml, 48 h) enhanced IgE production in B cells derived from four patients with allergic rhinitis (mean +/- SD picograms per milliliter of net IgE 930 +/- 320 in unstimulated cultures versus 2,450 +/- 650 in cultures stimulated with lymphoma supernatants; P less than 0.01) but did not induce IgE synthesis in B cells from two normal subjects that synthesized no IgE spontaneously. Lymphoma supernatants failed to enhance IgG synthesis by B cells of both allergic and nonallergic subjects. These results indicate that a T cell lymphoma comprised of cells bearing Fc receptors for IgE with a phenotype characteristic of immature T cells (i.e., T3+, T4+, T8+) exhibited IgE specific helper function. This lymphoma may represent the monoclonal expansion of a subpopulation of IgE specific helper T cells.
M C Young, H Harfi, R Sabbah, D Y Leung, R S Geha