Etiology and pathogenesis of AIDS-related non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
The incidence of NHL is greatly increased in HIV-infected individuals. The vast majority are clinically aggressive B cell-derived neoplasms exhibiting BL, IBL, or LCL histology. Approximately 80% arise systemically (nodal and/or extranodal), and the remaining 20% arise as primary CNS lymphomas. A small proportion are body cavity-based lymphomas associated with KSHV infection. Possible factors contributing to lymphoma development include HIV-induced immunosuppression, chronic antigenic stimulation, and cytokine overproduction. These alterations are associated with the development of oligoclonal B-cell expansions. The appearance of NHL is characterized by the presence of a monoclonal B-cell population displaying a variety of genetic lesions, including EBV infection, c-myc gene rearrangement, bcl-6 gene rearrangement, ras gene mutations, and p53 mutations/deletions. The number and type of genetic lesions varies according to the anatomic site and histopathology. In the case of BL, virtually 100% exhibit c-myc gene rearrangements, two thirds display p53 gene mutations, one third contain EBV, and none exhibit bcl-6 gene rearrangements. In contrast, in the case of IBL, virtually 100% contain EBV, 25% display c-myc gene rearrangements, 20% display bcl-6 gene rearrangements, and very few exhibit p53 gene mutations. These findings suggest that more than one pathogenetic mechanism is operational in the development and progression of AIDS-related NHLs. Further work will be necessary to develop a complete understanding of the etiology and pathogenesis of NHL in the setting of HIV infection. AIDS-related NHL remains an important biologic model for investigating the development and progression of high-grade NHLs as well as NHLs that develop in immune-deficient hosts.