Lymphomas and reactive lymphoid lesions in HIV infection

Blood Rev. 1998 Sep;12(3):154-62. doi: 10.1016/s0268-960x(98)90013-3.


Infection by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) causes depletion of CD4-positive lymphocytes with consequent immunodeficiency. HIV infection also causes, by direct or indirect mechanisms, both reactive and neoplastic changes in lymphoid tissues. In primary infection reactive changes are a direct response to HIV. Later in the course of the disease there are reactive changes in lymph nodes and extranodal lymphoid tissues which are likely to be largely an indirect effect of HIV infection, being a response to opportunistic infection by other organisms. There is also an increased incidence of autoimmune phenomena in HIV-infected subjects which is likely to be consequent, at least in part, on impaired control of the proliferation of self-reactive B-cell clones. A second mechanism of immune damage of blood cells, probably operating in the case of HIV-related immune thrombocytopenic purpura, is that of cellular damage by immune complexes containing antiviral antibodies. Lymphoid neoplasms associated with HIV infection include non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and, uncommonly, plasma cell dyscrasias. HIV-associated lymphomas have distinct clinicopathological features and generally a poor prognosis. As for reactive lymphoid lesions, induction of neoplasia is likely, in the majority of cases, to be an indirect rather than a direct effect of the virus. The combination of chronic B-cell stimulation and impaired T-cell function is important, and interaction of lymphoid cells with virus-infected stromal cells may also play a role. Infection by oncogenic viruses such as the Epstein-Barr virus and human herpes virus 8 is also aetiologically important. In rare cases of T-cell lymphoma, HIV may be directly oncogenic.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • HIV Infections / complications
  • HIV Infections / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma / etiology
  • Lymphoma / pathology*
  • Lymphoma / virology*