Aims and background: Preliminary evidence suggests that hepatitis C virus (HCV) might play a pathogenetic role in autoimmune-related, non-malignant B-cell lymphoproliferation, as well as in a subset of B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphomas (NHLs). With regard to the mechanism(s) by which HCV might favor B-cell expansion and malignant transformation, most data support an indirect pathogenetic role of the virus as an exogenous trigger. A direct oncogenetic role of HCV by direct cell infection and deregulation has only been hypothesized on the basis of the lymphotropism of the virus. Methods: In this study we investigated the possible HCV infection of NHL B cells by means of sensitive and quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) on affinity-purified neoplastic cells, and by HCV-specific immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization. Results: HCV infection of neoplastic B cells was documented in only three cases, namely the low-grade B-cell NHLs that arose in the course of mixed cryoglobulinemia syndrome (MC). HCV infection, below one viral genome per cell, was detectable only by PCR. All the remaining low-grade (one case) and high-grade B-cell NHLs (two cases) were HCV uninfected. Previous immunoglobulin gene analyses were consistent with an antigen-driven B-cell lymphoproliferation in the studied cases. Conclusions: Overall, our data are consistent with an indirect oncogenetic role of HCV in B-cell lymphomagenesis as an exogenous trigger. Infection of B cells by HCV appears possible in some NHL subsets, but the implications remain unknown.
|Number of pages||7|
|Publication status||Published - Sep 2002|
- B-cell NHL
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research