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J Pathol. 1997 Jul;182(3):299-306.

Modulation of interleukin-6 expression in Hodgkin and Reed-Sternberg cells by Epstein-Barr virus.

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Institute für Pathologie, Klinikum Benjamin Franklin, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany.


Variable proportions of Hodgkin's disease (HD) cases are associated with the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), but the role of EBV in HD is not entirely clear. Hodgkin and Reed-Sternberg (HRS) cells of EBV-associated HD are characterized by expression of the EBV gene product LMP1. In other cellular environments, LMP1 has been shown to induce interleukin (IL)-6. In this study, 105 HD cases were tested for differences in IL-6 expression among LMP1-positive and -negative cases. Isotopic in situ hybridization and correlation with the presence of EBV gene products revealed significantly higher proportions of cases with IL-6-expressing tumour cells in LMP1-positive (31 of 37, 84 per cent) as compared with LMP1-negative HD cases (35 of 68, 51 per cent). Thus, although not exclusive to EBV-positive HRS cells, IL-6 expression appears to be upregulated in EBV-associated HD. IL-6 receptor (CD126) expression was tested by in situ hybridization and found in a broad spectrum of cell types, regularly including HRS cells. Superinduction of IL-6 expression may be among the mechanisms by which EBV confers a growth advantage on virus-infected HRS cells and by which the virus may contribute to the morphological and clinical peculiarities of HD.

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