An infectious origin for pediatric Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) has long been suspected and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) has been implicated in a subset of cases. Increased HL incidence in children with congenital and acquired immunodeficiencies, consistent associations between autoimmune diseases and adult HL and genome-wide association and other genetic studies together suggest immune dysregulation is involved in lymphomagenesis. Here, healthy control children identified by random digit dialing were matched on sex, race/ethnicity and age to HL diagnosed in 1989-2003 at 0-14 years at Children's Oncology Group institutions. Parents of 517 cases and 784 controls completed telephone interviews, including items regarding medical histories. Tumor EBV status was determined for 355 cases. Using conditional logistic regression, we calculated odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for risk of HL. Cases were more likely to have had an infection >1 year prior to HL diagnosis (OR=1.69, 95% CI: 0.98-2.91); case siblings were also more likely to have had a prior infection (OR=2.04, 95% CI: 1.01-4.14). Parental history of autoimmunity associated with increased EBV+ HL risk (OR=2.97, 95% CI: 1.34-6.58), while having a parent (OR=1.47, 95% CI: 1.01-2.14) or sibling (OR=1.62, 95% CI: 1.11-2.36) with an allergy was associated with EBV-HL. These results may indicate true increased risk for infections and increased risk with family history of autoimmune and allergic conditions that varies by tumor EBV status, or they may be attributable to inaccurate recall. In addition to employing biomarkers to confirm the role of immune-modulating conditions in pediatric HL, future studies should focus on family based designs. What's new? Although infectious disease has long been a suspected cause of Hodgkin lymphoma (HL), the etiology of pediatric and adolescent HL remains little understood. Here, 517 cases of pediatric and adolescent HL diagnosed from 1989 to 2003 were investigated for an infectious origin, both in the presence and absence of tumor Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). While no specific infectious agents were implicated, HL cases had an increased likelihood of infection more than one year prior to diagnosis. Distinct patterns between family history of autoimmunity and allergy and HL risk by EBV status emphasize the need for comprehensive family-based studies.
- Hodgkin lymphoma
- autoimmune disease