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Clin Lymphoma Myeloma. 2006 Jan;6(4):289-300.

Infectious agents in mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue-type lymphomas: pathogenic role and therapeutic perspectives.

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  • 1Immunovirology and Biotherapy Unit, Department of Pre-Clinical and Epidemiological Research, Centro di Riferimento Oncologico, IRCCS National Cancer Institute, Aviano, Italy.


Mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) lymphoma probably constitutes the best in vivo model showing how complex interplay between B lymphocytes and the surrounding microenvironment may lead to a neoplastic disorder. After the seminal discovery of the pathogenic association between Helicobacter pylori and gastric MALT lymphomas, evidence suggests the possible involvement of other infectious agents in the development of MALT lymphomas arising at different body sites. Although several other bacteria (Borrelia burgdorferi, Campylobacter jejuni, and Chlamydia psittaci) and viruses (Hepatitis C virus) seem to play a role in lymphomas presenting at different locations, a possible common pathogenic mechanism is emerging. Several lines of evidence suggest that different infectious agents might provide a chronic antigenic stimulation that elicits host immune responses able to promote clonal B-cell expansion. This model is also substantiated by the increasing number of patients with MALT lymphomas who exhibit objective clinical responses after antimicrobial therapy. A multidisciplinary approach is critical to better understand the complex etiopathogenesis of MALT lymphomas with the final goal to dissect the clinicopathologic heterogeneity of these disorders and design more tailored preventive and therapeutic approaches.

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