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Mod Pathol. 2013 May;26(5):648-57. doi: 10.1038/modpathol.2012.217. Epub 2013 Jan 11.

Spindle-shaped CD163+ rosetting macrophages replace CD4+ T-cells in HIV-related classical Hodgkin lymphoma.

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Senckenberg Institute of Pathology, Hospital of the JW Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany.


Combination antiretroviral therapy is highly effective in HIV infection, leading to decreased incidences of AIDS-defining neoplasms. However, HIV patients still have a 10-fold increased risk of developing classical Hodgkin lymphoma compared with the general population. As Hodgkin- and Reed-Sternberg cells represent only a minority in the tumor infiltrate, the aim of the present study was to characterize the microenvironment of HIV-related classical Hodgkin lymphoma and compare it with classical Hodgkin lymphoma cases of immunocompetent individuals. The major morphologic differences were the presence of necrotic foci and the absence of epithelioid cell formation in HIV-related Hodgkin lymphoma. We observed a significantly decreased number of CD4+ T-cells and a significantly increased number of CD163+ macrophages in HIV-related Hodgkin lymphoma. Cases exhibiting a 'sarcomatoid' pattern of the reactive infiltrate exhibited significantly greater numbers of macrophages, associating the 'sarcomatoid' pattern to the presence of spindle-shaped macrophages. Whereas, rosetting of CD4+ T-cells around Hodgkin- and Reed-Sternberg cells was frequently observed in classical Hodgkin lymphoma in immunocompetent persons; rosetting in a subset of HIV-related Hodgkin lymphoma cases appeared to involve cytoplasmic protrusions of spindle-shaped macrophages. HIV-related Hodgkin lymphoma, therefore, is characterized by unique morphologic features, which should be recognized by pathologists.

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