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Cancer biomarkers in HIV patients

Ambinder, Richard Fa; Bhatia, Kishorb; Martinez-Maza, Otonielc; Mitsuyasu, Ronaldc,d

Current Opinion in HIV and AIDS: November 2010 - Volume 5 - Issue 6 - p 531–537
doi: 10.1097/COH.0b013e32833f327e
Biomarkers of outcomes of disease, treatment and complications: Edited by H. Clifford Lane and Jens D. Lundgren

Purpose of review In this review, we update investigations related to cancer biomarkers in HIV-infected populations.

Recent findings CD4 lymphocyte count is associated with primary central nervous system lymphoma (PCNSL), systemic non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) (except perhaps for Burkitt lymphoma), Kaposi's sarcoma, cervical cancer, and anal cancer. HIV load is associated with Burkitt lymphoma and systemic NHL (but not PCNSL), with Kaposi's sarcoma and with anal cancer. CD40 ligand incorporated into the HIV envelope and expression of activation-induced cytidine deaminase may help explain the relationship between HIV load and Burkitt lymphoma. Genetic polymorphisms have been identified that are linked to lymphoma in HIV patients. B-cell activation as manifest in immunoglobulin light chain production may be an important marker for NHL risk. Cytokines and related molecules (IL10, sCD30) may identify patients at high risk for NHL. Epstein–Barr virus (EBV) in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is useful as a marker for PCNSL, although with the falling incidence of PCNSL, the specificity of the test has been called into question. EBV and Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) have not yet emerged as especially promising markers of risk for either lymphoma or Kaposi's sarcoma.

Summary CD4 lymphocyte count, HIV load, germline genetic polymorphisms, cytokine and related molecules, and immunoglobulin light chains all show increasing promise as biomarkers of malignancy in HIV patients.

aSidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, Baltimore, USA

bNational Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland, USA

cUniversity of California Los Angeles, USA

dUCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles, California, USA

Correspondence to Richard F. Ambinder, CRB1, Room 389, 1650 Orleans Street, Baltimore, MD 21287, USA Tel: +1 410 955 8839; fax: +1 410 955 0960; e-mail:

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.