High Levels of Soluble CD20 (sCD20) in patients with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma (NHL): Correlation with Clinical Behavior and Contrast with Patients with Hodgkin's Disease (HD)

Reviewer: William Levin, MD
The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Last Modified: December 10, 2001

Presenter: M. Albitar
Presenter's Affiliation: MD Anderson Cancer Center, Texas
Type of Session: Scientific


  • CD20 is a Glycoprotein transmembrane receptor found on mature B-cells.
  • Differences in the levels of surface CD20 on B-cells have been observed in different malignancies.
  • Anti-CD20 antibodies are now being used against certain B-Cell lymphomas.

    In the current study, investigators use molecular techniques to identify differences in CD20 expression in patients with HD or NHL.

    Materials and Methods

  • The soluble CD20 levels in sera of 65 pts with previously untreated NHL and 37 pts with untreated HD were examined.
  • sCD20 levels were detected using ELISA.


  • Levels of sCD20 in pts with NHL were significantly higher than the HD pts (p=0.0001).
  • In the HD pts, sCD20 levels were similar or lower than normal controls.
  • On multivariate analysis, pts with high levels of sCD20 had shorter survival (p=0.04).
  • sCD20 levels decreased significantly after therapy in 34 pts with NHL.
  • Pts with high post-treatment sCD20 had shorter survival.

    Author's Conclusions

  • sCD20 levels should be used as a part of staging, directing of therapy, and follow-up in pts with NHL.
  • It is unclear why sCD20 levels are lowere in HD pts.

    Clinical/Scientific Implications
    Although this a single, small study, there appears to be utility in assessing sCD20 levels in pts with NHL. Further studies are needed before this becomes a standard screening test or follow-up test.

    Oncolink's ASH Coverage made possible by an unrestricted Educational Grant from Amgen.