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Hum Pathol. 2000 Feb;31(2):263-8.

Eradication of Borrelia burgdorferi infection in primary marginal zone B-cell lymphoma of the skin.

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Istituto Oncologico Svizzera Italiana, Department of Medical Oncology, Ospedale San Giovanni, Bellinzona, Switzerland.


Primary cutaneous B-cell lymphomas have been associated with Borrelia burgdorferi, the spirochete responsible for Lyme disease. Recently, cutaneous marginal zone B-cell lymphoma has been proposed as a distinct clinical-pathological entity. We report a case of primary cutaneous marginal zone lymphoma, associated with B burgdorferi infection. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification of the third complementarity determining region (CDR3) of the immunoglobulin heavy chain gene showed the presence of a monoclonal lymphoproliferation, therefore strengthening the histological diagnosis of a malignant process. B burgdorfer-specific hbb gene sequences were detected by PCR in the lymphoma tissue at diagnosis but not after antibiotic treatment. A nearly complete clinical and histological regression was observed after B burgdorferi eradication, with immunohistochemistry studies showing disappearance of plasma cell differentiation and a marked decline in the number of CD3+ T cells and Ki-67+ cells. Our case confirms the link between B burgdorferi and some cutaneous lymphomas. The disappearance of the microorganism accompanied by the unequivocal decrease of most indicators of active T- and B-cell immune response strongly supported a pathogenetic role for B burgdorferi in sustaining an antigen-driven development and growth of this cutaneous marginal zone lymphoma. Antibiotic therapy (analogous to Helicobacter pylori infection in gastric MALT lymphoma) might be helpful with the aim of averting or at least deferring the indication for more aggressive treatment.

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