Cutaneous manifestations of B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (B-CLL) comprise a wide spectrum of clinicopathologic presentations. In some cases, onset of skin lesions is triggered by antigenic stimulation, and specific skin infiltrates at sites of previous herpes simplex or herpes zoster infection have been well documented. Specific skin manifestations of B-CLL can also be observed at sites typical for lymphadenosis benigna cutis (nipple, scrotum, earlobe), a Borrelia burgdorferi-associated cutaneous B-cell pseudolymphoma.
We studied specific skin manifestations of B-CLL arising at sites typical for B. burgdorferi-induced lymphadenosis benigna cutis, analyzing tissues for presence of B. burgdorferi DNA using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique. Six patients with B-CLL (M : F = 4 : 2; mean age: 67.8) presented with specific skin lesions located on the nipple (four cases) and scrotum (two cases).
Clinically there were solitary erythematous plaques or nodules. Histology revealed in all cases a dense, monomorphous infiltrate of small lymphocytes showing an aberrant CD20+/CD43+ phenotype. In all cases monoclonality was demonstrated by PCR analysis of the JH gene rearrangement. PCR analysis showed in four of the six cases the presence of DNA sequences specific for B.burgdorferi.
Our study demonstrates that infection with B. burgdorferi can trigger the development of specific cutaneous infiltrates in patients with B-CLL.