AIDS-related non-Hodgkin's lymphomas: Molecular genetics, viral infection and cytokine deregulation

Gianluca Gaidano, Cristina Pastore, Annunziata Gloghini, Gisella Volpe, Paolo Ghia, Giuseppe Saglio, Antonino Carbone

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AIDS-related non-Hodgkin's lymphomas (AIDS-NHLs) are almost invariably derived from B cells and are grouped into three distinct histologic categories, including small-non-cleaved-cell lymphoma (SNCCL), diffuse large-cell lymphoma (DLCL), and anaplastic large-cell lymphoma (ALCL). In addition, AIDS-NHLs presenting solely as a body cavity effusion are thought to be a peculiar clinicopathologic entity and are defined as body-cavity-based lymphoma (BCBL). At the biologic level, AIDS-related lymphomagenesis is characterized by activation of proto-oncogenes, inactivation of tumor suppressor genes, viral infection of the tumor clone, and deregulated cytokine production. Distinct AIDS-NHL types associate with specific molecular pathways. The first pathogenetic pathway clusters with AIDS-SNCCL, and is characterized by a relatively mild degree of host immunodeficiency. AIDS-SNCCL consistently associates with c-myc rearrangements and p53 inactivation in 100 and 60% of cases, respectively, whereas infection by Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is restricted to 30% of the cases. Production of high levels of interleukin-10 is an additional peculiar feature of EBV-positive AIDS-SNCCL. The second pathogenetic pathway associates with AIDS-DLCL, which is usually accompanied by marked host immunodeficiency. AIDS-DLCL is characterized by EBV infection in the large majority of cases and by the mutually exclusive presence of bcl-6 rearrangements and c-myc translocations in 40% of the cases. A third pathway characterizes AIDS-BCBL, which associates in virtually all cases with infection by EBV and with the presence of DNA sequences of the recently identified Kaposi sarcoma herpesvirus in the apparent absence of other known genetic lesions. Finally, the pathogenetic features of AIDS-ALCL are still under investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-198
Number of pages6
JournalActa Haematologica
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - May 1996


  • AIDS
  • Cytokines
  • Lymphoma
  • Proto-oncogenes
  • Tumor suppressor genes
  • Viruses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology


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