Background: Some epidemiologic studies suggest a link between hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and some B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphomas. We undertook this study after a patient with splenic lymphoma with villous lymphocytes had a hematologic response after antiviral treatment of HCV infection.
Methods: Nine patients who had splenic lymphoma with villous lymphocytes and HCV infection were treated with interferon alfa-2b (3 million IU three times per week) alone or in combination with ribavirin (1000 to 1200 mg per day). The outcomes were compared with those of six similarly treated patients with splenic lymphoma with villous lymphocytes who tested negative for HCV infection.
Results: Of the nine patients with HCV infection who received interferon alfa, seven had a complete remission after the loss of detectable HCV RNA. The other two patients had a partial and a complete remission after the addition of ribavirin and the loss of detectable HCV RNA. One patient had a relapse when the HCV RNA load again became detectable in blood. In contrast, none of the six HCV-negative patients had a response to interferon therapy.
Conclusions: In patients with splenic lymphoma with villous lymphocytes who are infected with HCV, treatment with interferon can lead to regression of the lymphoma.