Increased Levels of Plasma Epstein Barr Virus DNA Identify a Poor-Risk Subset of Patients With Advanced Stage Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphoma

Bradley M. Haverkos, Alejandro A. Gru, Susan M. Geyer, Anissa K. Bingman, Jessica A. Hemminger, Anjali Mishra, Henry K. Wong, Preeti Pancholi, Aharon G. Freud, Michael A. Caligiuri, Robert A. Baiocchi, Pierluigi Porcu

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6 Scopus citations


Discovering prognostic factors that simultaneously describe tumor characteristics and improve risk stratification is a priority in cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL). More than a third of advanced stage CTCL patients in this cohort had detectable cell free plasma Epstein–Barr virus (EBV)-DNA (pEBVd) using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction. An increased level of pEBVd was highly concordant with EBV (ie, Epstein–Barr virus RNAs) in tumor tissue and was associated with inferior survival. Introduction Outcomes in advanced stage (AS) cutaneous T-cell lymphomas (CTCL) are poor but with great variability. Epstein–Barr virus (EBV) is associated with a subset of non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Frequency of plasma EBV-DNA (pEBVd) detection, concordance with EBV RNA (EBER) in tumor tissue, codetection of plasma cytomegalovirus DNA (pCMVd), and prognostic effect in AS CTCL are unknown. Patients and Methods Patients (n = 46; 2006-2013) with AS CTCL (≥IIB) were retrospectively studied. pEBVd and pCMVd were longitudinally measured using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction. EBER in situ hybridization (ISH) was performed on tumor samples. Survival from time of diagnosis (ToD) and time of progression to AS was assessed. Results Plasma EBV-DNA and pCMVd were detected in 37% (17 of 46) and 17% (8 of 46) of AS CTCL patients, respectively. pCMVd detection was significantly more frequent in pEBVd-positive (pEBVd+) than pEBVd− patients (35% vs. 7%; P = .038). Tumor tissue for EBER-ISH was available in 14 of 17 pEBVd+ and 22 of 29 pEBVd− patients; 12 of 14 (85.7%) pEBVd+ patients were EBER+ versus 0 of 22 pEBVd− patients. Frequency of large cell transformation (LCT) tended to be greater in pEBVd+ patients, but was not significant (10 of 14 pEBVd+ vs. 10 of 23 pEBVd−; P = .17). No notable differences in rates of increased levels of serum lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) were observed (17 of 17 pEBVd+ vs. 27 of 29 pEBVd−). pEBVd detection was associated with significantly worse survival from ToD (P = .021) and time of progression to AS (P = .0098). Conclusion Detection of cell-free plasma EBV-DNA was highly concordant with the presence of EBERs in tumor tissue, predicted survival independent of LDH and LCT, and should be further studied as a biomarker in AS CTCL.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S181-S190.e4
JournalClinical Lymphoma, Myeloma and Leukemia
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016


  • Biomarker
  • CTCL
  • EBV
  • MF
  • Mycosis fungoides
  • biomarker

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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