Almost 200 women worldwide have been diagnosed with breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL). The unique location and specific lymphoma type strongly suggest an etio-pathologic link between breast implants and BIA-ALCL. It is postulated that chronic inflammation via bacterial infection may be an etiological factor. BIA-ALCL resembles primary cutaneous ALCL (pcALCL) in morphology, activated T-cell phenotype, and indolent clinical course. Gene expression array analysis, flow cytometry, and immunohistochemistry were used to study pcALCL and BIA-ALCL cell lines. Clinical samples were also studied to characterize transcription factor and cytokine profiles of tumor cells and surrounding lymphocytes. BIA-ALCL and pcALCL were found to have common expression of transcription factors SOCS3, JunB, SATB1, and a cytokine profile suggestive of a Th1 phenotype. Similar patterns were observed in a CD30+ cutaneous lymphoproliferative disorder (LPD). The patterns of cytokine and transcription factor expression suggest that BIA-ALCL is likely to arise from chronic bacterial antigen stimulation of T-cells. Further analysis of cytokine and transcription factor profiles may allow early detection and treatment of BIA-ALCL leading to better prognosis and survival. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE 5: Risk.
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