Hodgkin's disease in association with human immunodeficiency virus infection. Pathologic and immunologic features

Cancer. 1991 Apr 1;67(7):1865-73. doi: 10.1002/1097-0142(19910401)67:7<1865::aid-cncr2820670709>3.0.co;2-f.


Six patients with Hodgkin's disease (HD) and demonstrable serum antibodies to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and two additional patients with HD belonging to HIV-associated high-risk groups but with negative HIV serology were studied. All patients were men and ranged in age from 21 to 45 years. The HIV risk factors included homosexuality (6), intravenous drug abuse (2), and hemophilia A (1). All patients had high pathologically determined stage (one Stage III and seven Stage IV), and bone marrow involvement was observed in five patients with the initial diagnosis of HD based on marrow biopsy in two cases. Four cases were histologically subclassified as mixed cellularity (MC) and three as nodular sclerosis (NS); one patient underwent only bone marrow biopsy and was not subclassified. Histologically all cases were characterized by numerous Reed-Sternberg cells and variants, and with the exception of one case, all had a distinctive decrease in the proportion of reactive background lymphocytes compared with what is usually expected in MC or NS Hodgkin's disease (relative lymphocyte depletion). Flow-cytometric immunophenotypic studies done on cell suspensions from diagnostic lymph node biopsies in four cases showed decreased CD4:CD8 ratios (mean = 1.4) compared with expected values of 4 to 6. The relative lymphocyte depletion observed histologically is probably a reflection of the decreased tissue CD4:CD8 ratios, and this impairment of host immune response may be related to the observed high stage in all eight cases. Patients with high stage HD and the described histologic and immunologic features should be evaluated for the presence of HIV infection.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antigens, Differentiation / analysis
  • Bone Marrow / pathology
  • Flow Cytometry
  • HIV Infections / complications*
  • HIV Infections / diagnosis
  • HIV Seropositivity
  • Hodgkin Disease / etiology*
  • Hodgkin Disease / immunology
  • Hodgkin Disease / pathology
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging


  • Antigens, Differentiation