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Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (CCLM)

Published in Association with the European Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (EFLM)

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Use of the CD19 count in a primary care laboratory as a screening method for B-cell chronic lymphoproliferative disorders in asymptomatic patients with lymphocytosis

G. Doreen te Raa
  • Primary Care Laboratory, SALTRO, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • Department of Internal Medicine, St. Antonius Hospital, Nieuwegein, The Netherlands
  • Department of Haematology, Academic Medical Centre Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • :
/ Kathelijn Fischer
  • Department of Epidemiology, Julius Centre, Utrecht, The Netherlands
/ Wim Verweij
  • Primary Care Laboratory, SALTRO, Utrecht, The Netherlands
/ Arend J. van Houte
  • Departments of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, St. Antonius Hospital, Nieuwegein, The Netherlands
/ Arnon P. Kater
  • Department of Haematology, Academic Medical Centre Amsterdam, The Netherlands
/ Douwe H. Biesma
  • Department of Internal Medicine, St. Antonius Hospital, Nieuwegein, The Netherlands
  • Department of Internal Medicine, University Medical Centre, Utrecht, The Netherlands
Published Online: 2010-11-06 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/CCLM.2011.018


Background: Detection of absolute and relative lymphocytosis in otherwise asymptomatic elderly patients is very common in the primary care setting and frequently results in referral for screening of lymphoproliferative disorders. Since many B-cell chronic lymphoproliferative disorders (B-CLPD) are indeed asymptomatic at diagnosis in most patients with lymphocytosis, no sign of such a disorder is usually detected. Currently, specific guidelines for screening of patients with lymphocytosis are lacking. We investigated the practicability and clinical value of a single colour CD19 count performed by a primary care laboratory in order to improve the diagnostic follow-up of patients with lymphocytosis in a primary care laboratory.

Methods: The capability of detecting monoclonal B-cell lymphocytosis and B-CLPD by CD19, was first confirmed in patient samples with known B-CLPD. Next, in a previously defined geographic area, a CD19 count was performed on all samples for patients aged ≥40 years with relative or absolute lymphocytosis but without neutropenia. Clinical follow-up, with a median of 4 years, was performed using both a survey among the requesting general practitioners and by analysis of the records of the referral hospitals within the borders of the defined area.

Results: A total of 520 cases with asymptomatic lymphocytosis were identified. In all cases, the CD19 count was performed; 207 (40%) showed increased values and 313 (60%) showed normal values. An increase in CD19 proved highly sensitive for detection of B-CLPD (98%, 95% CI; 94%–100%) with a high positive predictive value (57%, 95% CI; 50%–63%). The area under curve, the receiver-operating characteristic curve of the CD19 count (0.93, 95% CI; 0.91–0.96), was significantly higher compared to the absolute lymphocyte count (0.86, 95% CI; 0.83–0.89), especially in patients with moderate lymphocytosis.

Conclusions: This study indicates that the CD19 count, performed by a primary care laboratory, is feasible and a promising tool for initial screening of lymphocytosis to discriminate B-CLPD from benign causes of lymphocytosis.

Keywords: absolute lymphocyte count; B-cell chronic lymphoproliferative disorder; CD19; chronic lymphocytic leukaemia; diagnosis; monoclonal B-cell lymphocytosis

Corresponding author: G. Doreen te Raa, MD, Department of Haematology, Academic Medical Centre Amsterdam, P.O. Box 22600, 1100 DD Amsterdam, The Netherlands Phone: +31 6 18296018

Received: 2010-03-14

Accepted: 2010-07-02

Published Online: 2010-11-06

Published in Print: 2011-01-01

Citation Information: Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine. Volume 49, Issue 1, Pages 115–120, ISSN (Online) 1437-4331, ISSN (Print) 1434-6621, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/CCLM.2011.018, November 2010

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