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Cancer. 2015 Aug 1;121(15):2618-26. doi: 10.1002/cncr.29404. Epub 2015 Apr 15.

Immunologic evidence of a strong association between non-Hodgkin lymphoma and simian virus 40.

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Section of Pathology, Oncology, and Experimental Biology, School of Medicine, University of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy.
Section of Hematology, School of Medicine, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy.
Section of Microbiology, Schools of Medicine and Sciences, University of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy.
Institute for Maternal and Child Health-IRCCS Burlo Garofolo, Trieste Italy, and University of Trieste, Trieste, Italy.
Hospital Headquarter Department, State Hospital, Institute for Social Security, San Marino, Republic of San Marino.
Department of Medical Sciences, School of Medicine, University of Trieste, Trieste, Italy.
Department of Surgery, School of Medicine, University of Verona, Verona, Italy.
Department of Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Verona, Verona, Italy.



Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), the most common cancer of the lymphatic system, is of unknown etiology. The identification of etiologic factors in the onset of NHL is a key event that could facilitate the prevention and cure of this malignancy. Simian virus 40 (SV40) has been considered an oncogenic agent in the onset/progression of NHL.


In this study, an indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay with 2 synthetic peptides that mimic SV40 antigens of viral capsid proteins 1 to 3 was employed to detect specific antibodies against SV40. Serum samples were taken from 2 distinct cohorts of NHL-affected patients (NHL1 [n = 89] and NHL2 [n = 61]) along with controls represented by oncologic patients affected by breast cancer (BC; n = 78) and undifferentiated nasopharyngeal carcinoma (UNPC; n = 64) and 3 different cohorts of healthy subjects (HSs; HS1 [n = 130], HS2 [n = 83], and HS3 [n = 87]).


Immunologic data indicated that in serum samples from NHL patients, antibodies against SV40 mimotopes were detectable with a prevalence of 40% in NHL1 patients and with a prevalence of 43% in NHL2 patients. In HSs of the same median age as NHL patients, the prevalence was 16% for the HS1 group (57 years) and 14% for the HS2 group (65 years). The difference was statistically significant (P < .0001 and P < .001). Interestingly, the difference between NHL1/NHL2 patients and BC patients (40%/43% vs 15%, P < .001) and between NHL1/NHL2 patients and UNPC patients (40%/43% vs 25%, P < .05) was significant.


Our data indicate a strong association between NHL and SV40 and thus a need for innovative therapeutic approaches for this hematologic malignancy.


NHL; SV40; antibody; immunology; serum

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