Infectious agents and environmental factors in lymphoid malignancies

A. Toren*, I. Ben-Bassat, G. Rechavi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


A strong association was found to exist between patterns of lymphoid malignancies and socioeconomic status. B-cell lymphomas and T-acute lymphoblastic leukemia are much more prevalent in developing countries where the chances of aquiring infections especially at a younger age are high. B-cell precursor acute lymphatic leukemia, however, are much more prevalent in the Western world. Many infectious agents are associated with lymphatic malignancies. Epstein-Barr virus is involved in African Burkitt's lymphoma, human immunodeficiency virus-related Burkitt's lymphoma, lymphoproliferative syndrome post-transplantation, and Hodgkin's disease. Other infectious agents which may play a role in lymphoproliferative disorders are human immunodeficiency virus in acquired immune deficiency syndrome-associated lymphoma, human T-lymphotropic virus in adult T-cell lymphoma, Helicobacter pylori in mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue lymphoma, theileriosis in lymphoproliferative syndrome in cattle, Avian leukosis virus in chiken bursal lymphoma, and possibly a bacterial infection in immunoproliferative small intestine disease, potentially reversed by antibiotic therapy. The association between infectious agents and hematologic malignancies may be explained by the creation of large populations of activated cells followed by higher occurrences of 'genetic accidents'. This theory may be reinforced in at least some malignancies with the existence of viral proteins which either have complex relationships with key cellular gene products like p53 and Rb which have roles in cell cycle control, or share common motifs with bcl-2, therefore operating as anti-apoptotic elements. Whenever these genes are deranged, cell deoxysibonucleic acid repair or apoptosis are no longer possible, thereby creating a state of genome instability, increased aquisition of mistakes, and increased chances for malignant transformation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-94
Number of pages6
JournalBlood Reviews
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1996


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