Viral lymphomagenesis: from pathophysiology to the rationale for novel therapies

Br J Haematol. 2014 May;165(3):300-15. doi: 10.1111/bjh.12788. Epub 2014 Feb 18.


The association between viruses and lymphomas has long been recognized; however, the pathophysiological phenomena behind this relationship are unclear, and have been the object of intense research. Although our understanding of such mechanisms is slowly improving, much is still left to learn. With the recent advances in cancer biology, a diversity of biological pathways and novel targets and agents have been described in patients with haematological malignancies and successfully put into clinical practice. Clear examples are rituximab and brentuximab vedotin in patients with B cell lymphomas and Hodgkin lymphoma respectively. The main purpose of this review is not only to succinctly summarize what we know regarding the pathogenesis and pathophysiology of virally induced lymphomas and to describe the current practices in terms of diagnosis of treatment of such lymphomas, but also to provide a scientific rationale for the use of novel therapies that are likely to improve the outcomes of patients with these conditions.

Keywords: Epstein-Barr virus; human T-lymphotrophic virus type 1; human herpesvirus 8; lymphoma; lymphomagenesis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections / pathology
  • HTLV-I Infections / pathology
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / isolation & purification*
  • Human T-lymphotropic virus 1 / isolation & purification*
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma / therapy*
  • Lymphoma / virology*