Pathogenesis of AIDS lymphomas

AIDS. 1994 Aug;8(8):1025-49. doi: 10.1097/00002030-199408000-00003.


The AIDS-associated lymphomas represent a heterogeneous set of disease processes. The largest histologic subset of lymphomas is the large-cell lymphomas, which represent a spectrum of disease processes ranging from monomorphic monoclonal B-cell proliferations to very polymorphic and polyclonal mixtures of B cells, T cells and macrophages. The next most frequent class of systemic lymphoma are the small non-cleaved cell or Burkitt's-like lymphomas. These are relatively monomorphic, monoclonal malignant B-cell proliferations. The final subset of lymphomas, which are likely to become more common as the AIDS epidemic progresses, are the primary CNS lymphomas, which are expansions of EBV-immortalized B cells. The high incidence of tumor-associated EBV in the CNS lymphomas makes these lesions somewhat analogous to an opportunistic EBV infection. In HIV disease there is a long lag after infection before the appearance of clinical manifestations of impaired T-cell immunity. During this period, both appropriate B-cell proliferation in response to antigen (including the ubiquitous HIV) and abnormal B-cell proliferation (autoimmune, dysregulated) occur as the follicular architecture is disrupted by the virus and potential APC are exposed and/or infected with HIV. The destruction of FDC or the involution of their processes could interfere with the elimination by apoptosis of low-avidity B-cell clones. Antigen-competent B cells with pre-existing chromosomal translocations such as the t(8;14) (c-myc, IgH) would have a selective growth advantage in this setting. Figure 9 shows a schematic representation of prelymphomatous and lymphomagenic events as they are projected to occur. A similar pathogenetic scheme has been postulated for follicular B-cell lymphomas: PCR studies have demonstrated that a pool of t(14;18) (IgH;bcl-2) B-cells are present in lymph nodes featuring follicular hyperplasia. In response to antigen (the evidence favoring antigen drive is extensive hypersomatic mutation in sequences related to binding sites), B cells with the t(14;18) translocation have a selective advantage because the bcl-2 oncogene confers a resistance to apoptosis. Burkitt's lymphomas, particularly sporadic or HIV variants, fulfill at least the key criteria for antigen competence, mainly the presence of surface Ig. The c-myc-associated chromosomal translocational events are likely to occur early during the enzymatic machinations of gene rearrangement. Such B cells would be in the dysregulated cytokine and antigen milieu of HIV disease and ultimately could have a selective advantage. EBV infection of B cells probably requires activation and expression of the CD21 receptor. Furthermore, CD5+ B cells of CLL are refractory to EBV infection.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / complications*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • HIV Infections / complications*
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma / complications*
  • Lymphoma / diagnosis
  • Lymphoma / epidemiology
  • Lymphoma / physiopathology
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell / complications*
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell / diagnosis
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell / epidemiology
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell / physiopathology
  • United States / epidemiology