Purpose of review: Since the discovery of Epstein–Barr virus in Burkitt's lymphoma 50 years ago, only one other virus, namely Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus/human herpesvirus-8, has been confirmed to be a direct cause of B-cell lymphoma. Here we will review the evidence for Epstein–Barr virus and Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus as causal lymphoma agents.
Recent findings: A deeper understanding of specific mechanisms by which Epstein–Barr virus and Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus cause B-cell lymphomas has been acquired over the past years, in particular with respect to viral protein interactions with host cell pathways, and microRNA functions. Specific therapies based on knowledge of viral functions are beginning to be evaluated, mostly in preclinical models.
Summary: Understanding the causal associations of specific infectious agents with certain B-cell lymphomas has allowed more accurate diagnosis and classification. A deeper knowledge of the specific mechanisms of transformation is essential to begin assessing whether virus-targeted treatment modalities may be used in the future.