Plasmablastic lymphoma with MYC translocation: evidence for a common pathway in the generation of plasmablastic features

Mod Pathol. 2010 Jul;23(7):991-9. doi: 10.1038/modpathol.2010.72. Epub 2010 Mar 26.


Plasmablastic lymphoma, which is considered a subtype of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, shares many similar morphological and immunophenotypic features with plasmablastic transformation of plasma cell myeloma. In the setting of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, both types of neoplasms can be associated with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), thus making their distinction challenging. Moreover, the biological relationship between these entities remains unclear. We report four unique cases of plasmablastic lymphoma occurring in the setting of HIV infection that had overlapping clinical and genetic features with plasma cell myeloma. We reviewed the clinical, morphological, and cytogenetic findings and performed immunohistochemistry, in situ hybridization for EBV, chromosome analysis, and fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) using the MYC break-apart rearrangement probe. All patients were males with a median age of 45 years. In addition to extra-nodal disease, plasmablastic morphology, and phenotype typical of plasmablastic lymphoma, three of the four cases also showed clinical findings overlapping with plasma cell myeloma, that is, monoclonal serum immunoglobulin and lytic bone lesions. Furthermore, these cases showed complex cytogenetic changes that are more commonly observed in plasma cell myeloma. A unique feature was the presence of MYC (8q24.1) rearrangement confirmed by FISH in all four cases. MYC translocation has been associated with tumor progression in multiple myeloma but has only rarely been previously reported in plasmablastic lymphoma. These cases show a clinical and biological relationship between plasmablastic lymphoma and the plasmablastic variant of plasma cell myeloma. Dysregulation of MYC may be a common genetic mechanism that imparts plasmablastic morphology and aggressive clinical course to B-cell neoplasms at a later stage of differentiation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chromosome Aberrations
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • HIV Infections / complications
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Immunophenotyping
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse / genetics*
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse / pathology*
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse / virology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Myeloma / genetics*
  • Multiple Myeloma / pathology*
  • Multiple Myeloma / virology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc / genetics*
  • Translocation, Genetic


  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc