Detection of Epstein-Barr virus in transformations of low-grade B-cell lymphomas after fludarabine treatment.
Fludarabine is a highly effective chemotherapeutic agent for chronic lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocytic lymphoma and is also active in other B-cell lymphoproliferative disorders. Although highly efficacious in destroying the malignant B-cells, fludarabine also causes T-cell lymphopenia and immunosuppression. We present five patients given fludarabine for low-grade B-cell lymphoproliferative disorders who showed transformation of the primary neoplasm to a higher grade tumor. Immunohistologic antibody studies were performed on paraffin-embedded tissue sections of the initial tissue (when available) and on the follow-up biopsy specimens for CD20, CD3, CD45RO, CD43, CD30, CD15, and latent membrane protein (LMP-1) for Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). The initial diagnoses in these five patients included chronic lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocytic lymphoma (three cases), follicle center lymphoma (one case), and Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia (one case). All of the follow-up biopsy specimens showed scattered Hodgkin's-like cells, and two of the five also showed foci of large-cell transformation. The Hodgkin's-like cells showed CD30 immunoreactivity in four of the five cases and CD15 immunoreactivity in three of the five. Strong immunoreactivity of the large, atypical, Hodgkin's-like cells for LMP-1 of EBV was noted in four cases; in the remaining case, this finding was equivocal. In situ hybridization for EBV-encoded RNA was positive in four of the five cases. Molecular studies by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) showed the presence of EBV in three of the five cases. PCR for detection of immunoglobulin heavy chain demonstrated identical monoclonal rearrangements in the original lymphoma and transformation in one case with available material. The CD4 lymphocyte count in each patient was less than 550/microL, indicating cellular dysfunction. Transformation of low-grade non-Hodgkin's lymphomas after fludarabine therapy might be associated with EBV and severe immunosuppression.
Shields, DJ; Byrd, JC; Abbondanzo, SL; Lichy, JH; Diehl, LF; Aguilera, NI
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