Primary effusion lymphoma in HIV-infected patients with multicentric Castleman's disease

Valeria Ascoli, Sabina Signoretti, Andrea Onetti-Muda, Edoardo Pescarmona, Carlo Della-Rocca, Francesco Nardi, Claudio Maria Mastroianni, Roberta Gastaldi, Alessandra Pistilli, Gianluca Gaidano, Antonino Carbone, Francesco Lo-Coco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Multicentric Castleman's disease (MCD) and primary effusion lymphoma (PEL) are two B-cell lymphoproliferative diseases associated with Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpes virus/human herpesvirus-8 (KSHV/HHV-8). Although MCD is considered a prelymphoma state, it is not known whether a pathogenetic link exists between MCD and PEL. This paper reports the clinico-pathological features of four cases of PEL (two pericardial, one pleural, and one peritoneal) developing in the context of HIV-associated MCD. Effusions, lymph nodes, spleen, and additional tissues from three autopsies were examined for morphology/immunophenotype, search for HHV-8 DNA, and assessment of immunoglobulin heavy chain gene (IgH) configuration using polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based techniques. MCD and PEL samples contained HHV-8 DNA. Clonal IgH rearrangements were detected only in PEL, whereas MCD tissues were polyclonal. Light-chain immunostaining confirmed B-cell clonality in PEL (two lambda, one kappa, one not tested) and polyclonality in MCD. The autopsies revealed different morphological variants of visceral KS and multi-organ atypical infiltrates exhibiting immunoblastic/plasmablastic features reminiscent of PEL morphology, with a restriction of lambda-positive cells. In two cases, using microdissection and IgH PCR analysis, multiple/discrete bands were found in the infiltrates, compatible with polyclonality/oligoclonality. The case showing an oligoclonal IgH ladder contained a rearrangement of identical junctional size to the PEL clone; however, further analysis with PEL-derived clonotypic primers and sequencing of PCR products showed no amplification and nucleotide diversity, respectively, indicating that the two B-cell populations examined were clonally unrelated. These data show that MCD and PEL may co-exist in HIV-infected patients, suggesting a relevant association between these two HHV-8-related disorders. Although a definite clonal relationship between MCD and PEL was not demonstrated, it is hypothesized that in some MCD cases, within expanded polyclonal B-cell populations secondary to HHV-8 infection, clonal expansions may occur that localize into a body cavity, i.e. PEL.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)200-209
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Pathology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Body cavity
  • Human herpesvirus-8
  • Kaposi's sarcoma
  • Lambda light chain
  • Multicentric castleman's disease
  • Primary effusion lymphoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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