Hairy cell leukemia and variant in Taiwan: Report of a variant case and literature review

Yen Chuan Hsieh, Shen Tsung Chang, Shih Sung Chuang, Chin Li Lu, Chao Jung Tsao, Ching Nan Lin, Chin Yang Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Hairy cell leukemia (HCL) is characterized by leukemic cells with abundant "hairy" cytoplasm, strong cytoplasmic positivity for tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP), characteristic immunophenotype and sensitivity to treatment with purine nucleoside analogs. HCL-variant (HCL-v) encompasses chronic B-cell leukemias resembling classical HCL but exhibiting variant cytomorphology, variant immunophenotype and resistance to conventional HCL therapy. We present the case of a 67-year-old Taiwanese male with HCL-v who had leukocytosis and splenomegaly. His hairy leukemic cells were weakly positive for TRAP and expressed CD11c and CD103 but not CD25. He received oral chemotherapy with chlorambucil and in complete hematological remission in 9 months but relapsed 2 months later. Literature review revealed 9 cases of HCL and 3 cases of HCL-v including current case from Taiwan. All patients were adults with splenomegaly. The HCL patients had a significantly higher frequency of leukopenia (p = 0.024) and monocytopenia (p = 0.008) and a lower frequency of leukocytosis (p = 0.018) than HCL-v patients. All 8 HCL patients responded favorably to 2-chlorodeoxyadenosine with or without splenectomy. The 3 HCL-v patients had leukocytosis and received chemotherapy with variable outcome. HCL and HCL-v are rare in Taiwan and their pathological and immunophenotypical features were not fully characterized. A multi-modality approach incorporating hematological findings, cytomorphology, histopathology, cytochemistry, complete immunophenotyping and clinical features is needed to identify and characterize such cases in Taiwan.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-189
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Clinical and Experimental Pathology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Cd103
  • Cd11c
  • Cd25
  • Hairy cell leukemia
  • Hairy cell leukemia variant
  • Taiwan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology


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