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Lab Invest. 1998 Aug;78(8):949-55.

Nitric oxide synthases in Kaposi's sarcoma are expressed predominantly by vessels and tissue macrophages.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology, University of Vienna, Medical School, Austria.


Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) is a tumor of presumed vascular origin frequently found in patients with AIDS. Recent data suggest that the development of KS is linked with the presence of a newly recognized herpesvirus, human herpesvirus type 8. Nitric oxide (NO), a messenger molecule with vasoactive, antitumor, and antimicrobial effects, is produced by three isoforms of nitric oxide synthases (NOS). In the present report, we investigated the expression of NOS isoforms in KS. By NADPH-diaphorase histochemistry, NOS activity was detectable in endothelia and CD45+ cells within KS lesions. Reactivity for endothelial NOS (eNOS) was found in blood vessel endothelia; however, eNOS reactivity was negative in KS spindle cells in 12 of 17 tumors, and moderately positive in the other 5 lesions. In contrast to KS, tumor cells in three hemangiomas and one angiosarcoma were strongly positive for eNOS. Inducible NOS (iNOS) was absent from KS tumor cells but was found regularly in CD45+, HLA-DR+ cells within the lesions. In five KS-derived spindle cell cultures, neither eNOS nor iNOS proteins were detectable. The sporadic expression of eNOS by KS spindle cells in vivo and the absence of eNOS protein from KS spindle cells in tissue cultures argue against the possibility that the cells are derived from blood vessel endothelia. The consistent expression of iNOS by CD45+, HLA-DR+ cells within KS lesions strongly suggests that leukocyte-derived NO participates in the pathology of this tumor.

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