Kaposi sarcoma herpesvirus=human herpesvirus-8-negative effusion-based lymphoma: Report of 3 cases and review of the literature

Jingnan Xiao, Suzanne M. Selvaggi, Catherine P. Leith, Sean A. Fitzgerald, Jimmie Stewart

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Primary effusion lymphoma (PEL) is a rare subtype of large B-cell lymphoma that arises in body cavities without detectable tumor masses. PEL is universally associated with Kaposi sarcoma herpesvirus (KSHV)/human herpesvirus- 8 (HHV8). Despite overlapping features, KSHV/HHV8-negative effusion-based lymphoma is a distinct entity from PEL. To date, 52 cases have been reported. The authors report 3 additional cases received in their laboratory from 2007 to 2012. METHODS: Clinical data, cytomorphologic features, and immunophenotypic features of the 3 cases were described and compared with those reported in the literature. RESULTS: The cells in HHV8-negative effusion lymphoma commonly revealed large cell, immunoblastic morphology and B-cell immunophenotype. The 3 cases demonstrated cytomorphologic and immunophenotypic variability. Cytomorphologically, 1 case contained large, highly atypical cells with a moderate amount of cytoplasm, round nucleus, coarsely granular chromatin, and a single macronucleolus. The other 2 cases had medium to large atypical cells with high nuclear-to-cytoplasmic ratios, slightly irregular to cleaved nuclei, and multiple conspicuous nucleoli. One case had a null phenotype with aberrant cytokeratin expression. B-cell phenotype was established by clonal immunoglobulin heavy-chain rearrangement using polymerase chain reaction, whereas the other 2 cases demonstrated a B-cell phenotype by flow cytometry and immunohistochemical staining. All 3 cases were negative for both HHV8 and Epstein-Barr virus. CONCLUSIONS: HHV8-negative effusion lymphoma exhibits clinical, cytomorphologic, and immunophenotypic variability. Cases with a null-phenotype can be particularly challenging. When effusion lymphoma is suspected, ancillary tests are helpful. Moreover, HHV8 detection is critical in differentiating PEL and HHV8- negative effusion lymphoma, because they have overlapping features yet different prognoses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)661-669
Number of pages9
JournalCancer Cytopathology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Oct 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Effusion lymphoma
  • Kaposi sarcoma herpesvirus/human herpesvirus-8
  • Pericardial effusion
  • Pleural effusion
  • Primary effusion lymphoma


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