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Am J Pathol. 1992 Apr;140(4):757-62.

Presence of Epstein-Barr virus in Hodgkin's disease is not exclusive to Reed-Sternberg cells.

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  • 1Department of Histopathology, St. Bartholomew's Hospital Medical College, West Smithfield, London, United Kingdom.


Thirty-three cases of Hodgkin's disease (HD) have been studied for the presence of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) using a novel nonisotopic in situ hybridization procedure, based on the detection of Epstein-Barr encoded RNAs with oligonucleotide probes. An intense and morphologically distinct nuclear staining, sparing the nucleolus was seen in a total of 12 cases (36%). In six of these cases, the signal was located to the Hodgkin and Reed-Sternberg cells (HR-S); in the other six positive cases, the signal was observed only in the non-neoplastic small lymphocytes. These lymphocytes were few in number and immunocytochemistry results were consistent with a B-cell phenotype. The presence of EBV in those cases characterized by nuclear staining of small lymphocytes was confirmed by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis. The authors report the detection of EBV in small lymphocytes in HD by in situ hybridization and discuss the implications of these findings in relation to the proposed etiologic association between EBV and HD.

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