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Br J Cancer. 1999 Dec;81(7):1182-7.

Epstein-Barr virus expression in Hodgkin's disease in relation to patient characteristics, serum factors and blood lymphocyte function.

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Department of Medicine, Karolinska Hospital and Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.


Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) expression was investigated by immunohistochemistry (latent membrane protein 1 [LMP-1]) and in situ hybridization (EBV encoded RNA [EBER]) in biopsies from 95 patients with untreated Hodgkin's disease (HD). Tumour EBV status was related to EBV antibody titres, spontaneous and concanavalin A induced blood lymphocyte DNA synthesis, serum levels of soluble (s) CD4, sCD8, sCD25, sCD30, sCD54, beta2-microglobulin, thymidine-kinase, routine chemistry, patient characteristics, complete remission and survival. The median follow-up time was 145 months (range 60-257). Tumour EBV-positive (n = 30; 33%) and negative (n = 62; 67%) patients did not differ with regard to sex, age, stage, presence of bulky disease or B-symptoms, remission rate or survival. The proportion of EBV+ cases was significantly higher among patients with mixed cellularity histopathology (58%) as compared to the nodular sclerosis subtype (18%; P < 0.001). The total white blood cell (WBC) counts were significantly lower in EBV+ patients (P < 0.01), who also had significantly higher levels of sCD54 (P < 0.02) and a tendency towards lower levels of sCD30 (P = 0.056). Patients in the tumour EBV+ group had significantly higher IgG antibody titres to restricted early antigen (EA-R) (P < 0.02). Hence, clinical features and outcome were not related to tumour EBV status. However, HD patients with EBV+ tumours had elevated sCD54 levels, higher antibody titres to EA-R and decreased total WBC counts. A potential causal relationship between EBV tumour status and these findings needs to be further explored.

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