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Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1995 Jun;112(6):659-64.

Detection of Epstein-Barr virus genome in sinonasal undifferentiated carcinoma by use of in situ hybridization.

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Second Otolaryngology Clinic, University of Florence, Italy.


Associations between Epstein-Barr virus and undifferentiated carcinomas of nasopharynx, parotid gland, and thymus have recently been reported. Epstein-Barr virus has also been associated with malignant lymphoma of the nose and paranasal sinuses. These findings raise the possibility that Epstein-Barr virus may additionally be linked to undifferentiated carcinoma of the nose and paranasal sinuses (SNUC), an uncommon but distinctive and highly aggressive neoplasm. Histologically, SNUC consists of small and medium cells, the precise characterization of which often requires immunocytochemical analysis. This study investigates the presence of DNA sequences of Epstein-Barr virus in biopsy specimens of 13 cases of SNUC that were defined immunocytochemically by use of previously reported criteria. In situ hybridization was used to detect Epstein-Barr virus genome in different cell types in routinely processed, paraffin-embedded tissues. Epstein-Barr virus-specific DNA sequences were detected in tumor cells of SNUC specimens from 5 of the 13 cases examined. No correlation was found between positive hybridization and primary tumor site, morphologic subtype, or disease course. Epstein-Barr virus DNA was detected in 38% (5 of 13) of the SNUC samples analyzed. This finding suggests that this virus may play a role in the pathogenesis of this rare neoplasm.

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