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Int J Oncol. 2004 May;24(5):1165-74.

Clinicopathological states of Epstein-Barr virus-associated T/NK-cell lymphoproliferative disorders (severe chronic active EBV infection) of children and young adults.

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  • 1First Department of Internal Medicine, School of Medicine, Fukuoka University, Fukuoka, Japan.


Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-associated T/NK-cell lymphoproliferative disorders (LPD) of children and young adults are sometimes termed as severe chronic active EBV infection (CAEBV), and are associated with an aggressive clinical course. However, these clinicopathological states and the role of EBV have not been clarified. A retrospective study was performed on 43 children and adult patients, who manifested EBV-associated T/NK-cell lymphoproliferative disorders (EBV-T/NK-LPD) and most of whom had experienced general illness with CAEBV for several months or years. Clinicopathologically, 43 patients were classified into four groups: group A (smoldering state) (n=7), morphological non-neoplastic LPD with chronic clinical course (several years); group B (chronic state) (n=10), non-neoplastic LPD with clonal EBV-infected cells and a chronic course; group C (leukemia/lymphoma state) (n=22), neoplastic LPD with a subacute course (years to months); group D (fulminant state) (n=4), neoplastic LPD with a fulminant course (weeks to days). The 43 patients comprised 21 males and 22 females. The median age of group A was 14 years, group B 12 years, group C 17 years, and group D 1 year. Four of 7 patients in group A, 3 of 10 in group B, 12 of 22 in group C, and all 4 in group D have died. Causes of death included hemophagocytic syndrome and/or tumor death. Genotypically and phenotypically, group C was composed of peripheral T-cell lymphoma (PTCL), and NK-cell leukemia/lymphoma (NKLL), and group D comprised cases of PTCL. Groups A and B exhibited increased NK- or T-cells (CD8>CD4), and rare B-cells. Serologic titers of EBV were only modestly elevated or not elevated in almost all cases. EBV early RNA-1 (EBER-1)-expressing EBV-infected cells were frequently encountered in each group, but the number of infected cells varied between the cases. The EBV genotype did not differ between the groups. Our findings support an important pathogenic role for EBV-infected T/NK-cell infection, rather than the EBV state, in CAEBV and consequent EBV-associated NK/T-neoplasia.

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