Persistence of Epstein-Barr virus in Reed-Sternberg cells throughout the course of Hodgkin's disease

Philip J. Coates, Gerard Slavin, A. Jane D'Ardenne

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    Non-isotopic in situ hybridization employing digoxigenin-labelled DNA probes has been used to localize Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) in 55 cases of Hodgkin's disease (HD). The virus was found in Reed-Sternberg (RS) and mononuclear Hodgkin's cells in nine patients (16 per cent). Further samples taken at different times from three patients also showed the presence of EBV in the malignant cell population. Estimations of the number of EBV genomes present per cell suggested wide variations between different patients, but relatively constant amounts in different samples from the same patient. These findings are compatible with a stable infection of the neoplastic cells and support the notion that EBV may play a role in the development of HD in these patients. We also found evidence for the presence of EBV in a small percentage of non-neoplastic cells in 8 of the 55 samples. This suggests that isolation of EBV from HD tissue does not always signify a pathogenetic role for the virus. Furthermore, it is apparent that a high percentage of HD tissues do not contain demonstrable EBV, and the virus is therefore unlikely to be a causative agent for all cases of HD.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)291-297
    Number of pages7
    JournalJournal of Pathology
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 1991


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