VOL. 6, No. 1/2, July 2010

K. A. Schiel [2010] Med. Hypotheses Res. 6: 1-17.

An Etiologic Model Equating Hodgkin and
Reed/Sternberg Cells to Maturing Megakaryocytes and
Hodgkin’s Disease to Extramedullary Hematopoiesis

Kathryn Ann Schiel*

1800 Carlisle NE, Apt. B, Albuquerque, NM  87110, USA

Abstract. Research on a related topic led the author to note the similarity between
Hodgkin/Reed-Sternberg (H/RS) cells and megakaryocytes and to hypothesize they may be
identical. This possibility was tested by conducting a literature review to collect data on the
physical and functional characteristics of the two cell types. The present review revealed that
H/RS cells and megakaryocytes share numerous features. Physically H/RS cells resemble
immature megakaryocytes. Hodgkin cells possess the large, round nucleus, multiple nucleoli,
immature cytoplasm and ability to undergo endomitosis that characterize megakaryoblasts
while Reed/Sternberg cells possess the large segmented nucleus, prominent nucleoli and
granule producing Golgi apparatus that characterize basophilic megakaryocytes. H/RS cells
and megakaryocytes also have similar functional characteristics. Numerous surface receptors
on H/RS cells are also present on megakaryocytes. Three signaling cascades that are very
active in H/RS cells, MEK/ERK, JAK/STAT and PI3K-AKT, are also active in
megakaryocytes. Many transcription factors, such as AP-1, STATs-1,-3,-5,-6 and GATA-2
are active in both H/RS cells and megakaryocytes while the hallmark of H/RS cells, the
constitutive activation of the transcription factor NFkB, has recently been observed in
megakaryoblasts. Another distinctive trait shared by H/RS cells and megakaryocytes is the
transmission of both antiapoptotic and apoptotic signals. These similarities support the
hypothesis that H/RS cells are immature megakaryocytes. This, in turn, suggests that
Hodgkin’s tissue nurtures developing hematopoietic cells and may be extramedullary
hematopoietic tissue. Several features of Hodgkin’s tissue support this equivalence. If this
hypothesis is correct it has important implications for the treatment of Hodgkin’s Disease.

* Correspondence: Kathryn Ann Schiel, 1800 Carlisle NE, Apt. B, Albuquerque, NM  87110,
USA. Tel: 505-873-7452. Fax: 505-873-7444. E-Mail: