Characterization of overt B-cell lymphomas in patients with hepatitis C virus infection

Salvatore De Vita, Cosimo Sacco, Domenico Sansonno, Annunziata Gloghini, Franco Dammacco, Marina Crovatto, Gianfranco Santini, Riccardo Dolcetti, Mauro Boiocchi, Antonino Carbone, Vittorina Zagonel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A pathogenetic role of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) has been hypothesized for a subset of B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphomas (NHLs). However, the preliminary characterization of B-cell NHLs in HCV-infected individuals has been poorly addressed. In the present study, we report detailed information on 35 consecutive patients with overt B-cell NHL of recent onset and HCV infection; all patients referred to a single oncological center in Northeast Italy. Histopathologic evaluation was performed by a single reference hemopathologist, and the link with the two relevant autoimmune diseases predisposing to B-cell NHL and in which HCV has been implied, ie, 'essential' mixed cryoglobulinemia (EMC) and Sjogren's syndrome, was investigated. Control groups included 122 consecutive HCV-negative patients with B-cell NHL and 464 consecutive histopathologic cases of B-cell NHL referred to the same center, as well as 127 consecutive patients with HCV infection and without lymphoma referred to a different center in the same geographical area. B- cell NHLs in HCV-infected patients frequently presented at onset (1) an extranodal localization with peculiar target organs of HCV infection (ie, the liver and major salivary glands) being significantly overrepresented; (2) a diffuse large cell histotype without any prior history of low-grade B-cell malignancy or bone marrow involvement; and (3) a weak association with a full-blown predisposing autoimmune disease, although serum autoimmune features were common and cryoglobulins were always present. Therefore, the HCV-related B-cell NHLs in this oncological series presented distinctive features compared with B-cell NHLs in HCV-negative patients, and they differed from bone marrow low-grade NHLs frequently diagnosed in HCV-positive patients with EMC. Such novel information may be relevant for future research aimed at clarifying the possible link between HCV infection, autoimmunity, nonmalignant B-cell lymphoproliferation, and overt B-cell malignancy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)776-782
Number of pages7
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 15 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology


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