HLA-A alleles and infectious mononucleosis suggest a critical role for cytotoxic T-cell response in EBV-related Hodgkin lymphoma.

Research paper by Henrik H Hjalgrim, Klaus K Rostgaard, Paul C D PC Johnson, Annette A Lake, Lesley L Shield, Ann-Margaret AM Little, Karin K Ekstrom-Smedby, Hans-Olov HO Adami, Bengt B Glimelius, Stephen S Hamilton-Dutoit, Eleanor E Kane, G Malcolm GM Taylor, Alex A McConnachie, Lars P LP Ryder, Christer C Sundstrom, et al.

Indexed on: 24 Mar '10Published on: 24 Mar '10Published in: PNAS


A proportion of classical Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) is believed to be causally related to infection with the ubiquitous lymphotropic EBV. The determining factors for development of EBV-related HL remain poorly understood, but likely involve immunological control of the viral infection. Accordingly, markers of the HLA class I region have been associated with risk of EBV-related HL. To study the host genetic component of EBV-related HL further, we investigated the lymphoma's association with HLA-A*01 and HLA-A*02 simultaneously in the setting of infectious mononucleosis (IM), a risk factor for EBV-related HL, in a case-series analysis including 278 EBV-related and 656 EBV-unrelated cases of HL. By logistic regression, HLA-A*01 alleles [odds ratio (OR) per allele, 2.15; 95% CI, 1.60-2.88] were associated with increased and HLA-A*02 alleles (OR per allele, 0.70; 95% CI, 0.51-0.97) with decreased risk of EBV-related HL. These allele-specific associations corresponded to nearly 10-fold variation in risk of EBV-related HL between HLA-A*01 and HLA-A*02 homozygotes. History of IM was also associated with risk of EBV-related HL (OR, 3.40; 95% CI, 1.74-6.66). The association between history of IM and EBV-related HL was not seen in the presence of HLA-A*02 because this allele appeared to neutralize the effect of IM on EBV-related HL risk. Our findings suggest that HLA class I-restricted EBV-specific cytotoxic T-cell responses and events in the early immune response to EBV infection in IM play critical roles in the pathogenesis of EBV-related HL.

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