Oncolytic effect of SARS-CoV2 in a patient with NK lymphoma: Spontaneous remission in NK/T-cell Lymphoma during Covid-19

Oncolytic effect of SARS-CoV2 in a patient with NK lymphoma

Spontaneous remission in NK/T-cell Lymphoma during Covid-19


  • Federico Pasin Internal Medicine Unit,ASST Cremona
  • Matteo Mascalchi Calveri ASST Cremona
  • Alberto Calabrese ASST Cremona
  • Ginevra Pizzarelli ASST Cremona
  • Isabel Bongiovanni ASST Cremona
  • Michele Andreoli ASST Cremona
  • Chiara Cattaneo ASST Brescia
  • Giovanni Rignanese ASST Cremona


SARS-CoV2 Covid-19 NK lymphoma EBV DNA Remission


Covid-19 infection was a possible causal factor in the exhaustion and decrease number of NK clonal cells, resulting in a evident improvement of signs, symptoms and clinical features related to NK lymphoma refractory to previous immuno-chemiotherapy.

It has been shown that SARS-CoV2 binds to ACE2. Covid-19 may infect NK cells to suppress their functions, as NK cells express angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). The excessive production of proinflammatory cytokines in Covid-19 infection may have played a crucial role in lymphodepletion. Although not published in Covid-19, other RNA viruses that cause acute pulmonary infections promote NK cell apoptosis.

In NK/T-cell lymphoma plasma EBV-DNA is a sensitive surrogate biomarker of lymphoma load. In this case, we also notice a dramatic transient reduction in plasmatic EBV-DNA viral copies during Covid-19 pneumonia other than NK clonal cells reduction, and after the infection resolution we described a lymphoma relapse as well as EBV-DNA increase and the rising in NK clonal cells count.

Although the mechanism leading to spontaneous remission remain uncharacterized, we hypothezised that a favorable adaptive immunity against concurrent viral infection could render an enhanced anti-tumor effect. We suppose COVID-19 infection have induced a transient remission in this patient affected with NK neoplasm.


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Snijder J, Mihyawi N, Frolov A, et al. Spontaneous remission in diffuse large cell lymphoma: a case report. J of Med Case Reports. 2019 13:28.

Musto P et al. Spontaneus remission in Acute Myeloid Leukaemia: A role for endogenous production of Tumour necrosis factor and Interleukin-2? Br J Haematol. 1994 Aug;87(4): 879-80.







How to Cite

Pasin F, Mascalchi Calveri M, Calabrese A, Pizzarelli G, Bongiovanni I, Andreoli M, et al. Oncolytic effect of SARS-CoV2 in a patient with NK lymphoma: Spontaneous remission in NK/T-cell Lymphoma during Covid-19 . Acta Biomed [Internet]. 2020 Sep. 7 [cited 2024 Jul. 19];91(3):e2020047. Available from: https://www.mattioli1885journals.com/index.php/actabiomedica/article/view/10141