We assessed the clinical significance of T or B cell clonality and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection in adult patients with hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) to identify factors related to prognosis. A total of 30 adult patients with diagnosed HLH were included in the study. In all patients, EBV-DNA in peripheral blood was examined by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction and bone marrow cells were examined for clonal rearrangement of T cell receptor gamma (TCRG) and immunoglobulin heavy chain (IGH) genes. TCRG clones were detected in 10 patients (33.3%) and IGH clones were detected in 8 patients (26.7%). We found no correlation between clonality and patient outcome. The patients less than 1,000 copies (mL)-1 of EBV-DNA showed a significantly higher clinical response (P = 0.008) and longer overall survival (P = 0.01) than those with high viral load of EBV-DNA. Our results suggest that TCRG and IGH rearrangement do not have any clinical significance in adult patients with HLH, but that high viral load of EBV-DNA may be a risk factor for poor outcomes. In HLH, high viral load of EBV-DNA should thus suggest a prompt approach with aggressive therapeutic interventions.
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