Plasmablastic lymphoma: CNS involvement, coexistence of other malignancies, possible viral etiology, and dismal outcome

Celalettin Ustun, Michelle Reid-Nicholson, Asha Nayak-Kapoor, Jennifer Jones-Crawford, Kristy McDonald, Anand P. Jillella, Preetha Ramalingam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The clinical and pathological findings of plasmablastic lymphoma (PBL) have been described in the literature but the etiology is not well established, and treatment options are poorly defined. We reviewed patients with PBL in our institution to characterize the clinicopathologic features in our patient population. In this retrospective analysis from a single academic institution, five patients with PBL were identified and analyzed. Human immunodeficiency virus and human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8) were identified in 40% (two out of five) and 80% (four out of five) of these patients, respectively. Central nervous system (CNS) involvement was identified in four out of five (80%) patients. Interestingly, three out of five patients had a concurrent or preceding second primary malignancy including small lymphocytic lymphoma, endometrial cancer, and nonsmall cell lung cancer. Most of the patients had advanced disease and a poor performance status at diagnosis. Only two of the patients received systemic chemotherapy with an initial partial response. All five patients died; the median overall survival was 1 month. Our experience in patients with PBL indicates that CNS involvement is more common than reported in the literature. Coexistence of a second primary malignancy may be frequent, and prognosis remains dismal with standard lymphoma therapy. Lastly, the role of HHV-8 in the etiopathogenesis needs further trials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)351-358
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of Hematology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2009


  • CNS involvement
  • HHV-8
  • HIV
  • Plasmablastic lymphoma


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