Hepatitis C virus, B-cell proliferation and lymphomas

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Accumulating evidence support a role for hepatitis C virus (HCV) in the pathogenesis of human lymphoproliferative disorders. Clonal expansions of B lymphocytes have been prevalently detected in the bone marrow, in the liver and in the peripheral blood of HCV-infected patients. Epidemiologic studies have associated HCV infection with an increased risk of B-cell lymphoma development, particularly of those with primary localization to organs target of HCV infection. The analysis of the B-cell receptor variable region sequences in sequential phases of HCV-associated lymphomas provided evidence of an ongoing somatic mutation process still present in the neoplastic cells. A restricted repertoire of V, D, J genes was used to assemble the B-cell receptor, and a frequent occurrence of certain gene combinations (V1-69/D3-22/J4 heavy chain with a V3-20 encoded light chain; V3-7/D3/J3 heavy chain with V3-15/J1 light chain; V3-23/D3-22/J4 or V4-59/D2-15/J2 with a V3-20 light chain) was observed, thus suggesting a common antigen-binding specificity for these B-cell clones. The high similarity to antibodies with rheumatoid factor (RF) activity as well as to anti-HCV E2 antibodies suggested that HCV, alone or in complex with IgG, could play a pathogenetic role as an exogenous trigger in certain stages of B-cell lymphoproliferation and in certain subsets of B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphomas (NHLs). The restricted gene repertoire used to assemble the B-cell receptor observed in HCV-associated B-cell NHLs could have important implications as an antigenic target in anti-tumor immunologic therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)747-751
Number of pages5
JournalLeukemia and Lymphoma
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • B-cell receptor
  • Cryoglobulinemia
  • Hepatitis C virus
  • Non-Hodgkin's lymphomas

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Hematology
  • Oncology


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