Epstein-Barr virus-positive primary gastrointestinal Hodgkin's disease: association with inflammatory bowel disease and immunosuppression

Am J Surg Pathol. 2000 Jan;24(1):66-73. doi: 10.1097/00000478-200001000-00008.


Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is associated with an increased risk of lymphoma, which is usually extraintestinal but sometimes may involve the diseased bowel itself. Most lymphomas described in this setting are of non-Hodgkin's type, but rare cases of Hodgkin's disease (HD) have been reported. We describe the clinicopathologic and molecular features of four patients with primary gastrointestinal HD. Three patients had preexistent Crohn's disease (CD), for which two of them had received immunosuppressive therapy. The fourth patient had a longstanding history of diverticulitis and myasthenia gravis and was receiving immunosuppressive therapy for the latter. Multifocal involvement of the bowel by HD was noted in all four cases. Disease was staged as IVA in one patient, IIIB in one patient, and IE in one patient, and the fourth patient died in the postoperative period before further workup. Two patients received chemotherapy, one of whom was dead at 9 months, whereas the other has no evidence of disease at 25 months' follow-up. The patient with IE disease did not receive any therapy because only a few microscopic foci of disease were present and is also without any evidence of disease at 17 months. The Reed-Sternberg (RS) cells in all four cases expressed CD30, CD15, EBER-1, and LMP-1; two of four were focally CD20-positive. VJ-polymerase chain reaction for immunoglobulin heavy chain (IgH) rearrangement showed a polyclonal pattern in all four cases. In two cases, laser capture microdissection was used to isolate individual RS and Hodgkin's cells, which contained rearranged immunoglobulin genes, confirming a B-cell genotype. Whereas one case showed a dominant clonal band present in all isolates, cells from the patient with stage IE disease clearly showed a polyclonal population of RS cells. Our findings indicate that HD arising in the setting of IBD or chronic inflammation is the result of an Epstein-Barr virus-driven lymphoproliferation, analogous to that found in other immunodeficient states. Disordered immunoregulation inherent to CD and immunosuppressive therapy for the latter may contribute to its development. The finding of polyclonal RS cells in a patient with early stage disease and apparent cure by surgical resection versus monoclonal RS cells in the patient with disseminated disease suggests that HD in the setting of immunodeficiency also may show molecular progression, in a manner similar to that occurring in conventional B-cell lymphoproliferative disorders arising in the same setting.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biopsy
  • Colectomy
  • Colon / pathology
  • Colon, Sigmoid / pathology
  • Colonic Neoplasms / etiology
  • Colonic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / surgery
  • Crohn Disease / complications*
  • Crohn Disease / pathology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / genetics
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / isolation & purification*
  • Hodgkin Disease / complications*
  • Hodgkin Disease / pathology
  • Hodgkin Disease / surgery
  • Humans
  • Ileal Neoplasms / etiology
  • Ileal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Ileal Neoplasms / surgery
  • Ileum / pathology
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Immunosuppression Therapy / adverse effects*
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Male
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Reed-Sternberg Cells
  • Time Factors