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October 1997

Human Herpesvirus 8 DNA Sequences in Blistering Skin From Patients With Pemphigus

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Microbiology and Immunology (Drs Memar, Rady, and Tyring), Pediatrics (Dr Goldblum), and Dermatology (Drs Yen and Tyring), The University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston.

Arch Dermatol. 1997;133(10):1247-1251. doi:10.1001/archderm.1997.03890460069008

Background:  Human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8) has been detected in Kaposi sarcoma (KS) and other lesions in patients both seropositive and seronegative for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Kaposi sarcoma has been reported to develop in a disproportionate number of patients with pemphigus. Since HHV-8 is so strongly associated with KS, we wondered whether HHV-8 is present in pemphigus lesions from patients without KS or HIV infection. Pemphigus lesions and skin from healthy individuals were coded in a blinded fashion. Tissue-extracted DNA was tested using polymerase chain reaction, Southern blot hybridization, and automated sequencing of the polymerase chain reaction products for the presence of HHV-8 DNA. Six patients had pemphigus foliaceus, 6 had pemphigus vulgaris, and 2 had KS; 10 healthy individuals were used as controls. All 24 patients were HIV seronegative.

Observation:  Lesional skin from 4 of the 6 patients with pemphigus vulgaris, all 6 of the patients with pemphigus foliaceus, and both positive controls (KS) tested positive for HHV-8 DNA. Furthermore, the HHV-8 DNA sequences for KS330233 differed between all 6 DNA specimens from pemphigus foliaceus, while 3 of the 4 DNA specimens from pemphigus vulgaris were identical. However, HHV-8 DNA was absent in all normal human skin analyzed.

Conclusions:  This report expands the spectrum of lesions found to contain HHV-8 DNA sequences and suggests that HHV-8 might have trophism for pemphigus lesions.Arch Dermatol. 1997;133:1247-1251