Multiple remissions of extracavitary primary effusion lymphoma treated with a single cycle of liposomal doxorubicin in a patient infected with HIV

J. Chen, V. Mehraj, J. Szabo, B. Routy, R. P. Michel, J. P. Routy


Primary effusion lymphoma (pel) is a rare human herpesvirus 8 (hhv8)–related large B cell lymphoma with plasmablastic, immunoblastic, or anaplastic features that often carries a poor prognosis. This lymphoma occurs mainly in patients with hiv infection, most often with Epstein–Barr virus (ebv) co-infection, and usually presents as body cavity effusions or, less commonly, as extracavitary lesions without effusion (ec-pel). Chemotherapeutic treatment options are limited and require concurrent antiretroviral therapy (art).

Here, we report the case of an adult patient with hiv infection and chronic hepatitis E virus (hev) co-infection who had low CD4 T cell recovery after years of art. The patient then developed a cutaneous ec-pel which rapidly regressed after 1 cycle of liposomal doxorubicin (ld) for his Kaposi sarcoma (ks) before treatment with chop chemotherapy. He had previously received  numerous cycles of ld for cutaneous ks over 2 years.

Because of the patient’s low CD4 T cell count, hev co-infection, and earlier unexpected remission of ec-pel before chop, the patient opted for a single trial of ld before other options. Surprisingly, he experienced a complete remission lasting 18 months. Subsequently, his ec-pel relapsed twice at 31 and at 41 months after the initial diagnosis. Upon recurrence, a similar single cycle of ld was given, which again induced remission. The patient today is in complete remission after a total of 4 ld infusions over 54 months.

This patient represents a unique case of hiv-with-hhv8–related, ebv-negative ec-pel with chronic hev coinfection, in which rapid remission was achieved after a single cycle of ld, suggesting an antiviral response in addition to the chemotherapeutic effect.


hiv; hhv8; primary effusion lymphoma; liposomal doxorubicin; chronic hepatitis E virus infection; Epstein–Barr virus

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ISSN: 1198-0052 (Print) ISSN: 1718-7729 (Online)