Nasal Lymphomas in Peru: High Incidence of T-Cell Immunophenotype and Epstein-Barr Virus Infection

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The incidence of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma of the nasal region is much higher in Peru than in the United States and is similar to the incidence of sinonasal lymphomas in Asian countries. To characterize these lymphomas, we evaluated the clinical, morphologic, and immunohistochemical features of 14 cases and also analyzed the cases for Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) RNA using a sensitive and specific in situ hybridization method. Morphologically, the cases consisted of nine large cell immunoblastic lymphomas, one diffuse mixed cell lymphoma, one diffuse small cleaved lymphoma, one small noncleaved lymphoma, and two cases unclassifiable in the Working Formulation. Eleven cases demonstrated evidence of T lineage, two were of B lineage and one of indeterminate immunophenotype. In 13 of the lymphoma cases including all of the T-cell lymphomas, EBV RNA was detected in a high percentage of cells. Double-labeling immunohistochemical and in situ hybridization studies identified CD43 positivity in the cells labeling for EBV RNA. Much smaller amounts of EBV RNA were detectable in six of eight control benign nasopharyngeal biopsy specimens, and two were completely negative. These findings are similar to the prevalence of EBV-positive T-cell lymphomas in Asian countries and differ from the findings of the more common EBV-negative B-cell nasal lymphomas in the United States. These findings suggest that EBV plays a role in the development of nasal T-cell lymphomas and that the incidence of EBV infection may explain the reported “East-West” difference in the incidence of nasal T-cell lymphomas.

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