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Proc Assoc Am Physicians. 1999 Nov-Dec;111(6):594-601.

Human herpesvirus 8: is it a tumor virus?

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Institut für Klinische und Molekulare Virologie, Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany.


Human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8), also termed Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus, was identified in Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) biopsy specimens in 1994. The epidemiological data available to date indicate a strong association of HHV-8 with KS. It appears that HHV-8 is necessary for KS development. HHV-8 DNA is invariably found in all epidemiological forms of KS and primary effusion lymphomas. In contrast, HHV-8 DNA is rarely found in various tumor and nontumor tissues from patient groups not at risk of KS. Although current serology does not allow us to assess the HHV-8 prevalence in the general population, high titers of HHV-8 antibodies are almost exclusively found in KS risk groups. In addition, HHV-8 seroconversion has been shown to precede KS development. The mechanisms and genes involved in HHV-8 pathogenesis are less clear. HHV-8 belongs to a family of transforming viruses, and several candidate oncogenes have been identified by using rodent fibroblast transformation assays. However, expression of most of these genes could not be shown in latently infected tumor cells. As the HHV-8 genome encodes several cytokines and cytokine receptor homologues, HHV-8 may also promote KS pathogenesis through paraendocrine mechanisms.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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