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Leuk Lymphoma. 1992 Nov;8(4-5):319-25.

Significance of the detection of Epstein-Barr virus DNA in lymph nodes in patients with Hodgkin's disease.

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Division of Haematology, CHUV University Hospital, Lausanne, Switzerland.


Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) DNA is frequently identified in benign and malignant lymphoproliferative conditions. As shown by in situ hybridization studies viral DNA is localized within malignant cells as well as benign lymphocytes. Clonal and nonclonal EBV genomes are present in Hodgkin's disease (HD), lymphomas of the immunocompromised host and reactive lymph node hyperplasia. Lytic infection with formation of linear genomes is observed in the same conditions but appears to be infrequent in HD as shown by quantitation of mRNA coding for viral capsid antigen. Expression of the oncogene LMP (latent membrane protein) is seen in Sternberg-Reed (SR) cells and immunoblasts of AIDS-related lymphoma and infectious mononucleosis (IM). In HD, the region of the BNLF1 oncogene coding for the amino terminal and transmembrane domains (associated with oncogenic function) of LMP appears to be homogeneous whereas the region coding for the intracytoplasmic (carboxy terminal) domain of LMP is heterogeneous. Cytological similarities between SR cells and immunoblasts of IM and AIDS-related lymphomas are consistent with the hypothesis that the BNLF1 oncogene is one possible inducer of morphological features of SR cells. Whether chromosomal integration of EBV DNA is an important factor in activation of such a transforming activity remains to be elucidated. EBV DNA positive and negative HD cases with numerous SR cells lack significant mRNA expression of the two recombinase activating genes (RAG-1 and RAG-2). Therefore the SR cells appear to be derived from lymphocytes beyond the pre-B-cell or common thymocyte stage which may or may not subsequently become infected by EBV.

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