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Identification of an Atypical Enzootic Bovine Leukosis in Japan by Using a Novel Classification of Bovine Leukemia Based on Immunophenotypic Analysis.

Bovine leukemia is classified into two types: enzootic bovine leukosis (EBL) and sporadic bovine leukosis (SBL). EBL is caused by infection with bovine leukemia virus (BLV), which induces persistent lymphocytosis and B-cell lymphoma in cattle after a long latent period. Although it has been demonstrated that BLV-associated lymphoma occurs predominantly in adult cattle of >3 to 5 years, suspicious cases of EBL onset in juvenile cattle were recently reported in Japan. To investigate the current status of bovine leukemia in Japan, we performed immunophenotypic analysis of samples from 50 cattle that were clinically diagnosed as having bovine leukemia. We classified the samples into five groups on the basis of the analysis and found two different types of EBL: classic EBL (cEBL), which has the familiar phenotype commonly known as EBL, and polyclonal EBL (pEBL), which exhibited neoplastic proliferation of polyclonal B cells. Moreover, there were several atypical EBL cases even in cEBL, including an early onset of EBL in juvenile cattle. A comparison of the cell marker expressions among cEBL, pEBL, and B-cell-type SBL (B-SBL) revealed characteristic patterns in B-cell leukemia, and these patterns could be clearly differentiated from those of healthy phenotypes, whereas it was difficult to discriminate between cEBL, pEBL, and B-SBL only by the expression patterns of cell markers. This study identified novel characteristics of bovine leukemia that should contribute to a better understanding of the mechanism underlying tumor development in BLV infection.

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