HIV-associated plasmablastic lymphoma: lessons learned from 112 published cases

Am J Hematol. 2008 Oct;83(10):804-9. doi: 10.1002/ajh.21250.


Plasmablastic lymphoma (PBL) is a distinct subtype of non-Hodgkin B-cell lymphoma, originally described with a strong predilection to the oral cavity of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected individuals. Data regarding patient age and gender, HIV status, initiation of and response to highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), tumor extent, pathology, treatment, and outcome were extracted from 112 cases of PBL identified in the literature. The median age at presentation was 38 years with a male predominance of 7:1, and the median CD4+ count was 178 cells/mm(3). PBL presented on average 5 years after diagnosis of HIV. Common primary sites of presentation included the oral cavity, gastrointestinal tract, and lymph nodes. Most cases presented with either stage I or stage IV disease. There was a variable expression of B-cell markers in tumor cells, but plasma cell markers were expressed in all cases. EBV was detected in 74%. Chemotherapy was used to treat 55% patients and was combined with radiotherapy in 21% cases. Complete response was obtained in 66% of treated cases; the majority of these responses were seen after CHOP (cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, prednisone). The refractory/relapsed disease rate was 54%. Death occurred in 53% of patients, with a median overall survival of 15 months. Sex, CD4+ count, viral load, clinical stage, EBV status, primary site of involvement, and use of CHOP failed to show an association with survival. PBL is an aggressive B-cell lymphoma that presents in both oral and extra-oral sites of chronically HIV-infected immunosuppressed young men.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Antiretroviral Therapy, Highly Active / methods
  • CD4 Lymphocyte Count
  • Combined Modality Therapy / statistics & numerical data
  • Cyclophosphamide / therapeutic use
  • Doxorubicin / therapeutic use
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma, AIDS-Related / epidemiology
  • Lymphoma, AIDS-Related / mortality
  • Lymphoma, AIDS-Related / therapy
  • Lymphoma, Large-Cell, Immunoblastic / complications*
  • Lymphoma, Large-Cell, Immunoblastic / epidemiology
  • Lymphoma, Large-Cell, Immunoblastic / mortality
  • Lymphoma, Large-Cell, Immunoblastic / therapy
  • Prednisone / therapeutic use
  • Survival Analysis
  • Vincristine / therapeutic use
  • Viral Load


  • Vincristine
  • Doxorubicin
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Prednisone

Supplementary concepts

  • CHOP protocol