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2020 Mar 25

Vet Clin Pathol

A case of T-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia progressing to Richter syndrome with central nervous system involvement in a dog.


An 8-year-old neutered Beagle dog was presented with polyuria and polydipsia. Routine clinicopathologic testing showed a significant lymphocytosis and proteinuria. Lymphocytes were of small to intermediate in size with a mature morphology. Infectious disease screening was negative. PCR for antigen receptor gene rearrangements showed a clonal T-cell receptor (TCR) rearrangement consistent with T-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Bone marrow cytology showed <30% lymphocytes, while the proportion in splenic fine-needle aspirate cytology was considered increased. The dog was initially monitored but started on prednisolone and chlorambucil therapy 2 months later due to worsening clinical signs and progressive lymphocytosis. After an additional 2 weeks, the dog developed multifocal spinal pain and single-node lymphadenomegaly. Cytology of the lymph node showed a monomorphic population of large lymphoblasts consistent with lymphoma. Cytology of a cerebrospinal fluid sample also showed large lymphoblasts. PCR for antigen receptor gene rearrangement at both sites showed a clonal TCR rearrangement of the same molecular size as in the initial leukemic cells. The dog was diagnosed with a transformation of the CLL to Richter syndrome (RS) with involvement of the central nervous system (CNS). Therapy was started with L-asparaginase and an increased dose of prednisolone; however, the dog was euthanized due to progressive clinical signs. To our knowledge, this is the first report of canine RS with direct involvement of the CNS.