Skip to main content

HIV-associated Burkitt lymphoma with bone marrow and cerebral invasion in a patient with history of Plasmodium falciparum infection

HIV infected patients are more likely to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). Burkitt lymphoma (BL) is a highly aggressive NHL, associated with immunosuppression, especially with HIV. According to WHO classification there are three clinical types of BL: endemic, sporadic and immunosuppression-associated. Sporadic lymphoma was described especially in children (40% of child lymphomas in USA and EU). Two cofactors seem to be associated with BL: Ebstein Barr virus (EBV) and Plasmodium falciparum (PF) infection. PF and EBV are well-known co-factors in the pathogenesis of BL, but the mechanisms of interaction remain unclear.

We present a 51 year-old male, who developed lymphadenopathy, prolonged fever, weight loss, splenomegaly and seizure. The patient was admitted to a Hematology University Hospital. After lymph node biopsy he was diagnosed with BL. A specimen of bone marrow from the right iliac crest showed gross invasion by Burkitt tumor cells.

The patient tested positive for HIV and he was referred to the National Institute of Infectious Diseases “Prof. Dr. Matei Balş”, Bucharest. According to CDC Classification System for HIV Infection the patient had AIDS (C3 stage with a CD4 count of 39/cmm) and a high HIV viral load (500,262 copies/mL). The patient’s medical history revealed Plasmodium falciparum malaria 4 years ago, while he was living in South America. Epidemiological data revealed more than 200 sexual partners in the last two years. At admission to our hospital he had pancytopenia: white blood cells 1400/cmm, with 600 neutrophils and 600 lymphocytes, hemoglobin 9.6 g/dL and platelet count 25,000/cmm. The patient was tested for EBV infection and high titer of anti-VCA antibodies was found. ART was initiated with TDF-FTC-lopinavir/r with good virological outcome (after 6 weeks of therapy the viral load was 383 copies/mL). Cerebral MRI showed diffuse lymphomatous invasion. After 3 weeks of ART the patient was referred to Hematology Hospital where chemotherapy was started. Post-chemotherapy the pancytopenia was more severe: white blood cells – 200/cmm with CD4 count – 10/cmm, platelets – 15,000/cmm and hemoglobin – 7.9 g/dL. The BL response after chemotherapy was poor and the patient died two months after the diagnosis, despite the good virological outcome.

We present a rare case of NHL in a HIV-infected patient, with multiple co-factors for BL: HIV infection, EBV infection and Plasmodium falciparum infection. The prognostic in AIDS depends on the comorbidities’ outcome.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Lăpădat, I., Popescu, C., Dulamă, R. et al. HIV-associated Burkitt lymphoma with bone marrow and cerebral invasion in a patient with history of Plasmodium falciparum infection. BMC Infect Dis 14 (Suppl 4), P17 (2014).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • DOI: