Background. Primary effusion lymphoma (PEL) represents a peculiar lymphoma infected with human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8) and occurs predominantly in human immunodeficiency virus (HlV)-infected patients. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the immunologic and virological parameters, including HHV-8 viremia, of 5 HIV-infected patients with PEL whose disease was diagnosed and treated at our institute. Methods. Five patients were enrolled in the study. Biological parameters, such as latent and lytic HHV-8 antigen levels, plasma HHV-8 load, Epstein-Barr virus plasma DNA load, HIV-1 load, and CD4 cell count, were assessed before treatment, during therapy, and at follow-up. Results. Four patients were treated with chemotherapy and highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), and 1 was treated with HAART alone; 3 of 5 patients reached complete remission. HHV-8 could be detected before the initiation of therapy in plasma from all patients analyzed. HHV-8 levels decreased after therapy in 4 patients. During the whole observation period, plasma HHV-8 load showed a statistically significant inverse correlation with CD4 cell count but no significant correlation with HIV load and response to therapy. Conclusions. Our analysis demonstrates that HHV-8 can be detected in the plasma at the onset of PEL; its prognostic role needs to be explored. CD4 cell count seems to be the most important indicator of progression of PEL.
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