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J Invest Dermatol. 1990 Oct;95(4):371-81.

Endemic Kaposi's sarcoma in human immunodeficiency virus type 1-seronegative persons: demonstration of retrovirus-like particles in cutaneous lesions.

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Department of Dermatology I, University of Vienna Medical School, Austria.


In 1984, Greek physicians reported on the clustering of cases of Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) on the Peloponnesus peninsula. To gain more insight into its pathogenesis, we studied the seroepidemiologic and clinicopathologic characteristics of 12 Greek KS patients (eight male/four female) five of whom were residents of an endemic area on the Peloponnesus. These patients were in good general health with ages ranging from 48 to 80 years, had no clinical signs of immunodeficiency, and combined the features of both classic and epidemic KS in that they displayed not only involvement of acral areas but also widespread mucocutaneous lesions. Routine laboratory data were within normal limits; no patient had HTLV-1 and HIV-1/2 antibodies, but all patients had antibodies to several herpesviruses. The histopathology was characteristic of KS with the peculiar feature of a dense infiltrate composed predominantly of CD4+ T lymphocytes. Immunoenzymatic/morphologic studies of the KS cells were consistent with their origin from lymphatic endothelium. Outstanding ultrastructural findings were tubuloreticular structures and cylindrical confronting cisternae, structures that are indicative of an ongoing viral infection. Indeed, extensive electronmicroscopic studies resulted in the detection of retrovirus-like particles in close association to KS cells in five of 12 patients. This in situ observation opens the possibility that this retro-virus contributes to KS development.

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