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DNA ploidy, cell proliferation, and HIV/EBV association in Tanzanian malignant lymphomas


Malignant lymphomas (ML) are increasingly important causes of morbidity and mortality in sub-Saharan Africa including Tanzania, possibly due to HIV and AIDS. However, the biological characterization ML including their HIV and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) association as well as DLBCL subtypes in Tanzania is still sketchy. This prevents diagnostic/prognostic comparison as well as application of established therapeutic protocols.

Materials and methods

Selected archival, diagnostic ML biopsies (N=60) collected at Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH), Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, between 1996 and 2006 and their corresponding clinical/histopathological notes were analyzed by histopathology; immunohistochemistry (IHC) using CD20, CD3, CD30, CD10, MUM1p, BCL-6, BCL-2, and Ki-67 cell markers; flow-cytometry (FC) for DNA ploidy; and in situ hybridization (ISH) (n=25) for EBV-encoded RNA (EBER). Available sera (N=35) were screened by ELISA for HIV antibodies.


Out of the evaluated cases, 27 were diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) of which a slight majority (55.6%, n=15/27) had activated B cell-like (ABC) and 44.4% (12/27) had germinal center B cell-like (GCB) immunophenotype, although this was not statistically significant (p-value 0.547, Chi2 Test). Overall, 40% (24/60) ML were aneuploid mostly (63.0%, 17/27) the DLBCL and T-cell lymphoma (TCL) [54.5%, 6/11] which differences were not statistically significant (p-value 0.06, Chi2 Test. DNA index (DI) of FC-analyzed ML ranged from 1.103 to 2.407 (median=1.51) and most (75.0%) aneuploid cases showed high (>40%) cell proliferation by Ki-67 reactivity (p-value 0.031, statistically significant, Fisher's Exact Test). The majority (51.4%, 19/37) of EBER ISH analyzed lymphoma biopsies were positive (p-value 0.87, not statistically significant, Chi2 Test). Of the serologically tested lymphomas 40.0% (14/35) were HIV positive, mostly with high (≥40.0%) Ki-67 reactivity [p-value=0.05, statistically significant, Pearson Correlation].


Lymphomas at MNH appear to have frequent aneuploidy and EBER positivity as well as high DNA indices and tumor proliferation (Ki-67). DLBCL phenotype heterogeneity was similar to that observed in other countries suggesting applicability of established intervention approaches. HIV was apparently associated with high lymphoma cell proliferation but extended studies are needed to clarify this.


This article has been published as part of Infectious Agents and Cancer Volume 5 Supplement 1, 2010: Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Malignancies in AIDS and Other Acquired Immunodeficiencies (ICMAOI).The full contents of the supplement are available online at

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Correspondence to Amos Mwakigonja.

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Open Access This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Mwakigonja, A., Wannhoff, G., Heiden, T. et al. DNA ploidy, cell proliferation, and HIV/EBV association in Tanzanian malignant lymphomas. Infect Agents Cancer 5 (Suppl 1), A21 (2010).

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