Hodgkin and Reed-Sternberg (HRS) cells, a hallmark of classic Hodgkin lymphoma (CHL), are occasionally detected in non-Hodgkin lymphomas, including adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma (ATLL), a lymphoid neoplasm caused by human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1). HRS-like cells associated with ATLL have been described to be of B-cell lineage and infected with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), not HTLV-1. We herein describe clinicopathological findings in 8 cases (4 males and 4 females; median age, 73 years [range, 55-81 years]) of ATLL with HTLV-1-infected HRS-like cells identified by ultrasensitive RNA in situ hybridization for HTLV-1 basic leucine zipper factor (HBZ-ISH), a specific viral transcript of HTLV-1. All patients showed nodal or mediastinal lesions, and 5 of the 8 patients were at an advanced disease stage. HRS-like cells were positive for CD30, CD15, MUM1, CD25, and HBZ-ISH and negative for B-cell markers, including PAX5, pan-T-cell antigens, and EBV in all cases. Five cases were positive for CD4, and 6 cases were positive for fascin. HBZ was identified in both HRS-like cells and surrounding lymphoid cells in 1 case with an aggressive clinical course and only HRS-like cells in 7 cases, most of whom showed a clinical response regardless of the chemotherapeutic regimen. Even though the definitive lineage typing of the HTLV-1-infected HRS cells is one of the limitations of this study in the absence of single-cell microdissection for polymerase chain reaction analysis, the combination of diffuse HBZ-ISH positivity and negativity for PAX5 and EBV deemed these cases distinct from CHL arising in HTLV-1 carriers.
© 2021 by The American Society of Hematology.