Open Access Open Badges Research article

Drug sensitivity patterns of HHV8 carrying body cavity lymphoma cell lines

Rita Ötvös14*, Henriette Skribek1, Lorand L Kis1, Annunziata Gloghini2, Laszlo Markasz1, Emilie Flaberg1, Staffan Eksborg3, Jozsef Konya4, Lajos Gergely4, Antonino Carbone2 and Laszlo Szekely1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell Biology (MTC) and Center for Integrative Recognition in the Immune System (IRIS), Karolinska Institute, Box 280 SE-17177 Stockholm, Sweden

2 Dipartimento di Anatomia Patologica, Istituto Nazionale Tumori, via Venezian, Milano, Italy

3 Karolinska Pharmacy, and Department of Woman and Child Health, Childhood Cancer Research Unit, Karolinska Institutet, Karolinska University Hospital, Karolinksavagen, Stockholm, Sweden

4 Department of Medical Microbiology, Medical and Health Science Center, University of Debrecen, Nagyerdei krt. 98, Debrecen, Hungary

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BMC Cancer 2011, 11:441  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-11-441

Published: 12 October 2011



Primary effusion lymphoma (PEL) is a rare KSHV/HHV8-associated high-grade non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) of B-cell origin, characterized by serous effusions in body cavities. Most patients are HIV-infected men with severe immunosuppression and other HHV8-associated diseases such as Kaposi's sarcoma (KS). The prognosis for those infected is poor, with a median survival of less than 6 months in most cohorts. Sustained complete remission is rare. High-dose chemotherapy regimens are used to improve remission rate and survival. The aim of the present study was to compare the drug sensitivity pattern of the available primary effusion (body cavity based) lymphoma-derived cell lines in order to find additional, potentially effective drugs that are not included in current chemotherapy treatment protocols.


We have analyzed 11 cell lines against 27 frequently used cytostatic drugs in short term (3 days) survival assays using automated high throughput confocal microscopy.


All cell lines showed a distinct, individual drug sensitivity pattern. Considering the in vitro used and clinically achieved drug concentration, Vinorelbine, Paclitaxel, Epirubicin and Daunorubicin were the most effective drugs.


We suggest that inclusion of the above drugs into PEL chemotherapy protocols may be justified. The heterogeneity in the drug response pattern however indicated that assay-guided individualized therapy might be required to optimize therapeutic response.