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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1997 Jul 8;94(14):7600-5.

CD68+ cells of monocyte/macrophage lineage in the environment of AIDS-associated and classic-sporadic Kaposi sarcoma are singly or doubly infected with human herpesviruses 7 and 6B.

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Department of Dermatology, University Hospital, 8091 Zurich, Switzerland.


Earlier studies have shown that Kaposi sarcomas contain cells infected with human herpesvirus (HHV) 6B, and in current studies we report that both AIDS-associated and classic-sporadic Kaposi sarcoma contain HHV-7 genome sequences detectable by PCR. To determine the distribution of HHV-7-infected cells relative to those infected with HHV-6, sections from paraffin-embedded tissues were allowed to react with antibodies to HHV-7 virion tegument phosphoprotein pp85 and to HHV-6B protein p101. The antibodies are specific for HHV-7 and HHV-6B, respectively, and they retained reactivity for antigens contained in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue samples. We report that (i) HHV-7 pp85 was present in 9 of 32 AIDS-associated Kaposi sarcomas, and in 1 of 7 classical-sporadic HIV-negative Kaposi sarcomas; (ii) HHV-7 pp85 was detected primarily in cells bearing the CD68 marker characteristic of the monocyte/macrophage lineage present in or surrounding the Kaposi sarcoma lesions; and (iii) in a number of Kaposi sarcoma specimens, tumor-associated CD68+ monocytes/macrophages expressed simultaneously antigens from both HHV-7 and HHV-6B, and therefore appeared to be doubly infected with the two viruses. CD68+ monocytes/macrophages infected with HHV-7 were readily detectable in Kaposi sarcoma, but virtually absent from other normal or pathological tissues that harbor macrophages. Because all of the available data indicate that HHV-7 infects CD4+ T lymphocytes, these results suggest that the environment of the Kaposi sarcoma (i) attracts circulating peripheral lymphocytes and monocytes, triggers the replication of latent viruses, and thereby increases the local concentration of viruses, (ii) renders CD68+ monocytes/macrophages susceptible to infection with HHV-7, and (iii) the combination of both events enables double infections of cells with both HHV-6B and HHV-7.

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