- Hodgkin's disease (HD) is an unusual malignant neoplasm, mainly because of the rarity of tumor cells in the diseased tissues, but also due to a relatively favorable response to treatment. In a previous study, we have shown a variable degree of apoptosis in lymph nodes from HD patients. We now looked for clinicopathological correlations of apoptosis with special emphasis on the prognosis in this disease. A retrospective study of 92 patients was carried out, using in situ end labelling of DNA fragments and an apoptosis detection kit. An apoptotic index (Al) was calculated in each case, as the percentage of apoptotic Hodgkin-Reed-Sternberg cells out of the total number of tumor cells in 10 selected high power fields. An association between a high Al and advanced stages was noted. A Kaplan-Meier analysis showed a negative correlation between Al and survival (p=0.05). In a multivariable analysis adjusting for Ann Arbor stage, a high Al carried a 3.27 fold risk of dying of HD (OR=3.27; Cl=0.89-11.94). However, in our limited cohort of HD patients, Al was not an independent prognostic factor. The results of this study confirm the important role played by apoptosis in HD and suggest that the apoptotic index is probably a negative prognostic marker in this disease. Its assessment in patients with HD may provide a new, important clinical tool.