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28.11.2018 | Original Article

Acute Epstein–Barr virus-positive cytotoxic T cell lymphoid hyperplasia in the upper aerodigestive tract, mimicking extranodal natural killer/T cell lymphoma, nasal type

Virchows Archiv
Xie Jianlan, Huang Yuhua, Zheng Yuanyuan, Zhang Yanlin, Wei Ping, Liu Wei, Zhou Xiaoge, Jin Mulan
Wichtige Hinweise
Xiaoge Zhou and Mulan Jin contributed equally to this study and share the role of corresponding author.


To describe the clinicopathological features of nine patients with acute Epstein–Barr virus (EBV)-positive cytotoxic T cell lymphoid hyperplasia (EBV+TLH) in the upper aerodigestive tract, in which initial findings led to a preliminary misdiagnosis of extranodal NK/T cell lymphoma, nasal type (ENKTL). A series of nine cases of EBV+TLH in one Chinese institution over a 9-year interval was retrospectively analyzed. Median age was 16 years (range 5–29 years) with a M:F ratio of 5:4. All patients were previously healthy with an acute onset period of < 1 month. Six patients (66%) presented with masses or polypoid protrusions in the upper aerodigestive tract. Nasopharyngeal symptoms, cervical lymphadenopathy, and fever were found in 89%, 78%, and 56% of patients, respectively. In seven cases, morphology mainly showed small-sized irregular cells and in two cases medium-to-large cells. In all cases, the cells diffusely expressed cytoplasmic CD3 and at least one marker for cytotoxic granules, but were negative for CD56. CD5 expression was detected in eight cases (8/9, 89%). In all cases, double staining for CD3 and EBER indicated that most T cells were infected with EBV. T cell receptor gene rearrangement was performed in five cases and all showed polyclonal results. All patients achieved complete remission within 1 month after diagnosis without any chemoradiotherapy and were followed up 19–124 months without recurrent disease. EBV+TLH in the upper aerodigestive tract is occasionally observed in China. The histopathologic features of EBV+TLH can mimic ENKTL. EBV+TLH should be taken into consideration as a potential diagnosis when the disease duration is short, spontaneous remission is achieved without intervention, and when histology shows infiltration with EBV-infected T lymphocytes.

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