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Blood. 1998 Feb 1;91(3):747-55.

Differential expression of BCL-6, CD138/syndecan-1, and Epstein-Barr virus-encoded latent membrane protein-1 identifies distinct histogenetic subsets of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome-related non-Hodgkin's lymphomas.

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  • 1Division of Pathology, Centro di Riferimento Oncologico, IRCCS, Aviano, Italy.


This study was aimed at defining the histogenesis of the pathologic spectrum of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome-related non-Hodgkin's lymphomas (AIDS-NHL), including AIDS-related small noncleaved cell lymphoma (AIDS-SNCCL), AIDS-related large noncleaved cell lymphoma (AIDS-LNCCL), AIDS-related large cell immunoblastic lymphoma plasmacytoid (AIDS-IBLP), and AIDS-related primary effusion lymphoma (AIDS-PEL). Forty-six cases of AIDS-NHL were investigated for the expression pattern of BCL-6, a protein specifically expressed by germinal center (GC) B-cells, and CD138/syndecan-1 (syn-1), a marker of post-GC B-cell differentiation. Expression of BCL-6 and syn-1 segregated two major phenotypic patterns among AIDS-NHL: (1) the BCL-6+/syn-1- pattern associated with AIDS-SNCCL and AIDS-LNCCL; (2) the BCL-6-/syn-1+ pattern associated with AIDS-IBLP and AIDS-PEL. Among systemic AIDS-NHL infected by Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), expression of the EBV-encoded latent membrane protein-1 (LMP-1) preferentially associated with the BCL-6-/syn-1+ profile. Analysis of nonneoplastic lymph nodes showed that the two phenotypic patterns detected in AIDS-NHL correspond to physiologic stages of B-cell development, i.e., GC B-cells (BCL-6+/syn-1-) and preterminally differentiated post-GC B-cells (BCL-6-/syn-1+). Thus, BCL-6+/syn-1- AIDS-NHL reflects a GC stage of differentiation, whereas AIDS-NHL which are BCL-6-/syn-1+, and LMP-1+ when infected by EBV, derive from B cells that have entered post-GC plasmacell differentiation. These findings are relevant for the pathogenesis and differential diagnosis of AIDS-NHL.

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