Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) is the most common neoplasm in patients with AIDS. Epidemiologic evidence and the recent identification of herpesvirus-like DNA sequences in patients with KS have suggested a role for vital agents in the etiopathogenesis of this disease. It is unclear if these sequences are present in all types of KS and if the copy number of these sequences has a correlation with disease severity (staging). In order to clarify these issues, we retrospectively analyzed, by PCR and Southern blotting, formalin- fixed, paraffin-embedded biopsy specimens from 12 patients previously diagnosed with KS by histopathologic examination of these specimens between the years of 1977 and 1996. We also analyzed tissue samples from these patients taken from dermal sites without KS lesions and control tissues from healthy subjects. Of the 12 patients, 6 had classic KS, 5 had AIDS-associated KS, and 1 had the endemic type of KS. We tested the specimens for other herpesviruses, including cytomegalovirus, human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6), HHV- 7, HHV-8, and Epstein-Barr virus. Of 20 biopsy specimens from patients previously diagnosed with KS, 19 were positive for HHV-8 sequences (95%), while PCR for the DNAs of other herpesvirus agents was negative. Uninvolved tissue from these patients and control tissue from healthy subjects gave negative results for all viruses. Semiquantitative analysis of Southern blots showed higher levels of HHV-8 DNA in those patients with multicentric and visceral involvement than in those patients with localized involvement. In addition, in patients with localized skin disease, the nodular stage had higher levels of HHV-8 DNA than the patch or plaque stages. Our data confirmed that HHV-8 is involved in the etiopathogenesis of all types of KS and that there is a correlation between HHV-8 DNA load and the severity and staging of this disease.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Microbiology (medical)