TdT-positive infiltrate in inflamed pediatric kidney a potential diagnostic pitfall

Jennifer B. Dunlap, Michael Cascio, Xavier Stacey, Sarah Click, Megan Troxell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


We encountered a patient with infantile nephrotic syndrome associated with a dense interstitial inflammatory infiltrate and prominent extramedullary hematopoiesis. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed numerous terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase (TdT)-positive cells, which may raise concern for lymphoblastic lymphoma. Thus, we further characterized a group of pediatric kidneys with inflammation. TdT-positive nuclei were quantitated, and dual immunostains for TdT/CD79a, TdT/CD3, and TdT/CD43 were performed in a subset of cases; flow cytometry was performed in 1 case. TdTpositive nuclei were present in inflamed pediatric kidneys in 40 of 42 patients. TdT counts (average of 3 maximal high-power fields) ranged from 1 to >200, with a mean of 47. The presence and number of TdT-positive nuclei showed a strong association with younger patient age. Extramedullary hematopoiesis was identified in 11/42 patients, all under the age of 1. The presence of extramedullary hematopoiesis did not correlate with TdT count (P=0.158). Dual immunostaining and flow cytometric analysis in 1 case showed weak expression of B-cell markers and favored normal precursor B cells. Although TdT is a common marker of lymphoblastic lymphoma, we have demonstrated that TdT-positive cells may be part of the inflammatory milieu in infant kidneys. Together with cytologic, architectural, and clinical features, these data can help to avoid misinterpretation of involvement by lymphoblastic lymphoma/leukemia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)706-716
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Surgical Pathology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2017


  • Congenital nephrotic syndrome
  • Extramedullary hematopoiesis
  • Lymphoblastic lymphoma/leukemia
  • Renal dysplasia
  • Terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase (TdT)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Surgery
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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