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Leuk Lymphoma. 2014 Apr;55(4):786-94. doi: 10.3109/10428194.2013.818142. Epub 2013 Aug 28.

Zidovudine-based lytic-inducing chemotherapy for Epstein-Barr virus-related lymphomas.

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Division of Hematology/Oncology.


Treatment of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-related lymphomas with lytic-inducing agents is an attractive targeted approach for eliminating virus-infected tumor cells. Zidovudine (AZT) is an excellent substrate for EBV-thymidine kinase: it can induce EBV lytic gene expression and apoptosis in primary EBV+ lymphoma cell lines. We hypothesized that the combination of AZT with lytic-inducing chemotherapy agents would be effective in treating EBV+ lymphomas. We report a retrospective analysis of 19 patients with aggressive EBV+ non-Hodgkin lymphoma, including nine cases of acquired immune deficiency syndrome-associated primary central nervous system lymphoma (AIDS-PCNSL) treated with AZT-based chemotherapy. Our results demonstrate that high-dose AZT-methotrexate is efficacious in treating highly aggressive systemic EBV+ lymphomas in the upfront setting. In primary EBV+ lymphoma cell lines, the combination of AZT with hydroxyurea resulted in synergistic EBV lytic induction and cell death. Further, AZT-hydroxyurea treatment resulted in dramatic responses in patients with AIDS-PCNSL. The combination of AZT with chemotherapy, especially lytic-inducing agents, should be explored further in clinical trials for the treatment of EBV-related lymphomas.

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