Retinoic acid-induced apoptosis and regression of a refractory Epstein-Barr virus-containing T cell lymphoma expressing multidrug-resistance phenotypes

Published on Monday, 15 July 2013


The virus-associated T cell leukaemias/lymphomas are characterized by a poor prognosis primarily because of the rapid emergence of drug resistance which may lead to failure of subsequent chemotherapy.

We report here a case of Epstein-Barr virus-associated T cell lymphoma which relapsed soon after chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

The neoplastic cells of the relapsed tumour expressed high levels of multi-drug resistance gene (mdr1)-related P-glycoprotein and glutathione-S-transferase-pi, both of which were absent in the pre-chemotherapy tumour tissues.

Empirical treatment with oral 13-cis-retinoic acid (RA) was then given with subsequent complete disappearance of the tumour. The therapeutic effect of RA appears to act through an apoptotic process.

In accordance with our previous report of a successful salvage of a refractory Ki-1 large cell lymphoma. RA appears to be a potentially useful drug for some specific type T-cell lymphomas.


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