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Leukemia. 2003 Jan;17(1):185-95.

Qualitative and quantitative analysis of human herpesviruses in chronic and acute B cell lymphocytic leukemia and in multiple myeloma.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA.


Real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) was used to quantify viral loads of human herpesviruses (HHVs) at diagnosis in 61 samples of malignant B cells: 21 chronic lymphocytic leukemia (B-CLL), 29 acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL) and 11 multiple myeloma (MM); control samples were blasts from 16 acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and 24 blood or bone marrow samples from healthy donors. The majority of samples from healthy donors and patients (B-ALL, B-CLL or AML, but not MM) was positive for EBV and contained <100 ebv copies/100 ng dna. ebv loads were occasionally high (>500 copies/100 ng DNA) in B-ALL (2/16) and in B-CLL (2/21) samples. The fractions of samples positive for HHV-8 and HHV-6A, less than 10% for MM patients, were high for adults with B-ALL (18.8% HHV-8+, 43.8% HHV-6A+) or B-CLL (28.6% HHV-8+, 52.4% HHV-6A+). B-ALL, B-CLL and MM samples were rarely positive for HHV-6B and HHV-7. Lastly, 75% of B-ALL samples were positive for CMV, and CMV loads were significantly higher in B-ALL samples than in MM, B-CLL or AML samples. We also used PCR with consensus-degenerate hybrid oligonucleotide primers (CODEHOP) to look for novel HHVs in B cell samples: no sequence indicative of a new HHV was detected. Altogether, the data indicate that the presence of multiple HHVs, including EBV and CMV at high loads, is not rare in B-ALL and B-CLL cell samples. Future prospective studies should determine whether patients with high EBV/CMV loads at diagnosis in tumor samples face a higher risk of delayed hematological recovery, virus-related complications or relapse.

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