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Benign B-Cell Precursors (Hematogones) Are the Predominant Lymphoid Population in the Bone Marrow of Preterm Infants

Rimsza L.M.a · Douglas V.K.b · Tighe P.c · Saxonhouse M.A.d · Calhoun D.A.e · Christensen R.D.e · Sola M.C.d
aDepartment of Pathology, University of Arizona, Tucson, Ariz., bDepartment of Pathology, Immunology and Laboratory Medicine, cCollege of Medicine, dDepartment of Pediatrics, University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla. and eDepartment of Pediatrics, University of South Florida and All Children’s Hospital, St. Petersburg, Fla., USA Biol Neonate 2004;86:247–253 (DOI:10.1159/000079907)


Bone marrow (BM) findings in 3rd-trimester stillborns and full-term living neonates have been previously described. However, there is no information regarding BM composition in living preterm infants. Specifically, it is unknown whether the BM lymphocytosis seen in full-term infants at 1–4 weeks of age also occurs in preterm infants. Furthermore, the lineage of these cells has never been investigated. We used a panel of immunohistochemical stains to characterize the BM composition in 11 neonates (8 living and 3 deceased). Unlike in the other age groups, immature B cells (hematogones) were the most common lymphoid population, accounting for 10–60% (mean 34%) of all cells. In two additional cases (both living patients), flow cytometry revealed a level of 3.8% of immature B cells in a <1-week-old neonate and 25.7% in a 19-week-old infant. Immature B cells were not identified in 6 peripheral blood samples from preterm neonates. These findings are pertinent for the interpretation of BM and peripheral blood samples in this age group as survival improves and diagnostic samples become more common.


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