Background: Human herpes virus 8 (HHV8) is the causative agent of Kaposi's sarcoma and has been associated with an increasing number of hematologic diseases such as primary effusion lymphoma (PEL) (both classic and extracavitary form), multicentric Castleman disease and the germinotropic lymphoproliferative disorder. PEL is a rare B cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma that primarily affects immunocompromised patients; aggressive chemotherapy and antiretroviral therapy (ART) with protease inhibitors have been used, with poor results. We present a case of extracavitary PEL in an HIV-infected patient, regressed after ART initiation.
Case presentation: A 42-year-old male was admitted to the emergency room because of several months of malaise, fever and progressive deterioration of the general conditions. On physical examination soft non-painful subcutaneous masses were palpable at retronuchal, retroauricolar and thoracic regions. HIV serology resulted positive: HIV plasma viremia was 782,270 copies/mL, CD4 103 cells/mL. The excision of one of the masses, metabolically active at a positron emission tomography (PET-CT) scan, revealed an HHV8-related extracavitary PEL. HHV8 plasma viremia was 44,826 copies/mL. ART with tenofovir alafenamide/emtricitabine/dolutegravir was started together with ganciclovir for cytomegalovirus chorioretinitis. The progressive disappearance of the masses was seen after 6 weeks of ART, and a PET-CT scan resulted completely negative at 3 months. After 19 months of ART the patient was in remission of PEL, HIV viremia was undetectable (< 20 copies/mL), CD4 count was 766 cells/mL and HHV8 viremia was undetectable.
Conclusions: In this clinical case, the complete regression of PEL has been achieved after the immune recovery, as a consequence of ART introduction, without chemotherapy. It cannot be excluded that ganciclovir, used for the treatment of CMV chorioretinitis, may have contributed to the control of HHV8 replication. Whether to try or not a conservative approach in HIV-infected PEL patients must be carefully evaluated, considering the patient's characteristics and the prognostic factors.
Keywords: Dolutegravir; HHV8; Primary effusion lymphoma.