Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) is composed of neoplastic Hodgkin and Reed-Sternberg cells in an inflammatory background. The neoplastic cells are derived from germinal center B cells that, in most cases, are infected by Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), which may play a role in tumorigenesis. Given that EBV-latent membrane protein 1 (LMP1) regulates autophagy in B cells, we explored the role of autophagy mediated by EBV or LMP1 in HL. We found that EBV-LMP1 transfection in HL cells induced a modest increase in autophagy signals, attenuated starvation-induced autophagic stress, and alleviated autophagy inhibition- or doxorubicin-induced cell death. LMP1 knockdown leads to decreased autophagy LC3 signals. A xenograft mouse model further showed that EBV infection significantly increased expression of the autophagy marker LC3 in HL cells. Clinically, LC3 was expressed in 15% (19/127) of HL samples, but was absent in all cases of nodular lymphocyte-predominant and lymphocyte-rich classic HL cases. Although expression of LC3 was not correlated with EBV status or clinical outcome, autophagic blockade effectively eradicated LMP1-positive HL xenografts with better efficacy than LMP1-negative HL xenografts. Collectively, these results suggest that EBV-LMP1 enhances autophagy and promotes the viability of HL cells. Autophagic inhibition may be a potential therapeutic strategy for treating patients with HL, especially EBV-positive cases.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cancer Research