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January 1997

Detection of Human Herpesvirus 8 and Human T-Cell Lymphotropic Virus Type 1 Sequences in Kaposi Sarcoma

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Dermatology (Drs Lebbé, Rybojad, and Morel) and the Laboratories of Pharmacology (Drs Lebbé, de Crémoux, and Calvo) and Virology (Drs Agbalika and Deplanche), Hôpital Saint-Louis, Paris, France, and the Department of Dermatology, Hôpital Universitaire Intercantonal de Genève, Geneva, Switzerland (Dr Masgrau).

Arch Dermatol. 1997;133(1):25-30. doi:10.1001/archderm.1997.03890370031006

Background:  Ultrastructural studies have shown retroviral particles in Kaposi sarcoma (KS) unrelated to infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Recently, DNA sequences from a new herpesvirus, human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8), were detected in KS tissues.

Objectives:  To screen for the presence of HHV-8 sequences in patients with KS not related to HIV infection and correlate HHV-8 sequence detection and clinical staging and to screen for the presence of human T-cell lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1) sequences in the peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) of such patients.

Design:  Tumor and normal skin samples and PBMCs were investigated by polymerase chain reaction using primers for HHV-8 and HTLV-1 pX gag, pol, and env sequences.

Setting:  Ambulatory or hospitalized patients from a university hospital associated with a research laboratory.

Patients:  Thirty-one patients with KS not related to HIV infection (21 classic cases, 3 endemic cases, 1 case associated with Castleman disease, 4 homosexual men, 1 post-transplantation patient, and 1 patient taking corticosteroids). Stages involved included I (13 patients), II (8 patients), III (7 patients), and IV (3 patients).

Results:  Human herpesvirus 8 sequences were found in 100% of KS specimens, 70% of distant normal skin specimens, and 42% of PBMC samples. The percentage of HHV-8 detection in PBMCs was higher in patients with KS stage III or IV than in patients with stage I or II. Human T-cell lymphotropic virus type I pX sequences were detected in 2 of 19 patients while gag, pol, and env test results were negative using polymerase chain reaction analysis.

Conclusions:  Our data suggest no significant association between HTLV-1 infection and KS. Detection of HHV-8 infected cells in normal skin samples from the majority of KS tissues, regardless of clinical staging, can be paralleled to the multifocal pattern of the disease. Human herpesvirus 8 detection in PBMCs could be related to the tumor burden.Arch Dermatol. 1997;133:25-30