Exp Mol Med.  2015 Jan;47(1):e133. 10.1038/emm.2014.105.

Epstein-Barr virus-positive T/NK-cell lymphoproliferative disorders

  • 1Department of Medical Oncology, Sun Yat-sen University Cancer Center, State Key Laboratory of Oncology in South China, Collaborative Innovation Center of Cancer Medicine, Guangzhou, China. caiqingqing199@hotmail.com
  • 2Department of Hematopathology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA. khyoung@mdanderson.org
  • 3The University of Texas School of Medicine, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Houston, TX, USA.


Epstein-Barr virus, a ubiquitous human herpesvirus, can induce both lytic and latent infections that result in a variety of human diseases, including lymphoproliferative disorders. The oncogenic potential of Epstein-Barr virus is related to its ability to infect and transform B lymphocytes into continuously proliferating lymphoblastoid cells. However, Epstein-Barr virus has also been implicated in the development of T/natural killer cell lymphoproliferative diseases. Epstein-Barr virus encodes a series of products that mimic several growth, transcription and anti-apoptotic factors, thus usurping control of pathways that regulate diverse homeostatic cellular functions and the microenvironment. However, the exact mechanism by which Epstein-Barr virus promotes oncogenesis and inflammatory lesion development remains unclear. Epstein-Barr virus-associated T/natural killer cell lymphoproliferative diseases often have overlapping clinical symptoms as well as histologic and immunophenotypic features because both lymphoid cell types derive from a common precursor. Accurate classification of Epstein-Barr virus-associated T/natural killer cell lymphoproliferative diseases is a prerequisite for appropriate clinical management. Currently, the treatment of most T/natural killer cell lymphoproliferative diseases is less than satisfactory. Novel and targeted therapies are strongly required to satisfy clinical demands. This review describes our current knowledge of the genetics, oncogenesis, biology, diagnosis and treatment of Epstein-Barr virus-associated T/natural killer cell lymphoproliferative diseases.

MeSH Terms

Cell Transformation, Viral
Epstein-Barr Virus Infections/*complications
Herpesvirus 4, Human/*physiology
Killer Cells, Natural/immunology/metabolism/*pathology/*virology
Lymphoproliferative Disorders/diagnosis/*etiology/therapy
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