What is the role of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) in the etiology of Hodgkin lymphoma (Hodgkin disease)?

Updated: Sep 12, 2018
  • Author: Bradley W Lash, MD; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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The etiology of Hodgkin lymphoma is unknown. Infectious agents, particularly Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), may be involved in the pathogenesis. [10, 11] Depending on the study, data show that up to 30% of cases of classical Hodgkin lymphoma may be positive for EBV proteins. [12] In addition, a case control study supports an increased risk of classical Hodgkin lymphoma after EBV infection, with a risk of approximately 1 in 1000 cases. [13]

The incidence of EBV positivity varies with subtype. Nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma (NLPHL) rarely expresses EBV proteins, [14] whereas in classical Hodgkin lymphoma, EBV positivity is most common in the mixed-cellularity variant. [15] However, the exact mechanism by which EBV can lead to Hodgkin lymphoma is not known.

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