Telomere length is maintained by the activation of telomerase, which causes continuous cell division and proliferation in many carcinomas. A catalytic reverse transcriptase protein (TERT) encoded by the TERT gene plays a critical role in the activation of telomerase. We performed a molecular and pathological analysis of the TERT against three different peripheral T-cell lymphoma (PTCL) subtypes: PTCL, not otherwise specified (PTCL-NOS), angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma (AITL), and adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma (ATLL). Immunohistochemical analysis demonstrated TERT expression in 31% of AITL, 11% of PTCL-NOS, and 5% of ATLL. Among them, AITL frequently showed high TERT expression with statistical significance. TERT promoter mutation analysis and genomic copy number evaluation were performed. TERT promoter mutation was observed in two cases of PTCL-NOS (2/40) and not in other PTCLs. Genome copy number amplification was detected in 33% of PTCL-NOS, 33% of AITL, and 50% of ATLL cases. We evaluated the relationship between the analyzed TERT genomic abnormalities and protein expression; however, no apparent relationship was observed. Furthermore, immunostaining showed TERT expression in the PTCL cytoplasm, suggesting the existence of mechanisms other than the maintenance of telomere length. Statistical analysis of the effect of TERT expression on the prognosis in PTCL cases revealed that TERT expression tended to have a poor prognosis in PTCL-NOS. Since TERT expression was not an independent factor in multivariate analysis, further research will be needed to clarify the poor prognosis of PTCL-NOS in TERT expression.
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