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Am J Pathol. 1997 Dec;151(6):1517-22.

Expression of a virus-derived cytokine, KSHV vIL-6, in HIV-seronegative Castleman's disease.

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Department of Pathology, University of Milano, L. Sacco Hospital, Milan, Italy.


Castleman's disease is a rare B cell lymphoproliferative disorder related to excess interleukin-6 (IL-6)-like activity. Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV or HHV8), which encodes a functional cytokine (vIL-6), has been found in some patients with Castleman's disease. Lymph nodes from 14 HIV-seronegative Castleman's disease patients were compared to hyperplastic lymph nodes from 25 HIV-seronegative patients as well as Kaposi's sarcoma lesions from 48 patients for KSHV infection and vIL-6, human IL-6, and Epstein-Barr virus EBER expression. While all Kaposi's sarcoma tissues examined were polymerase chain reaction-positive and all control lymph nodes were polymerase chain reaction-negative for KSHV, none had detectable vIL-6 expression. Six of 14 (43%) Castleman's tissues were positive for KSHV by polymerase chain reaction and all 6 had evidence of vIL-6 expression by immunohistochemistry. vIL-6-positive Castleman's disease patients generally had the multicentric plasma cell variant form of the disease and had a rapidly fatal clinical course frequently associated with autoimmune hemolytic anemia and gammopathy. In contrast, 7 (88%) of the 8 vIL-6-negative Castleman's disease patients had localized disease and have remained disease-free after therapy. KSHV vIL-6 expression appears to be limited to hematopoietic cells and is not present in Kaposi's sarcoma spindle cells. These data suggest that Castleman's disease is a syndrome of multiple etiologies involving aberrant IL-6 activity from either endogenous or viral sources.

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