Infection of circulating CD34+ cells by HHV-8 in patients with Kaposi's sarcoma

Michael Henry, Aumaid Uthman, Alexandra Geusau, Armin Rieger, Lucinda Furci, Adriano Lazzarin, Paolo Lusso, Erwin Tschachler

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Human herpesvirus type 8 (HHV-8) has been identified as the most likely candidate to be involved in the development of Kaposi's Sarcoma (KS). HHV-8 has been associated with all forms of KS, primary effusion lymphoma, and multicentric Castleman's disease and detected in various non-neoplastic cells. Its presence in cells of the different hemopoietic lineages has not yet been investigated in a comprehensive and systematic manner. In this study we searched for the presence of HHV-8 in different subpopulations of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from patients with classic and AIDS-associated KS, as well as from HIV-1 seropositive and sero-negative persons without KS. Thirty-four samples of PBMC were isolated from 30 patients. Subpopulations were isolated with immunomagnetic beads. Polymerase chain reaction for HH-8 DNA was performed on PBMC and subpopulations with a primer pair selected from ORF26 of the viral genome. Polymerase chain reaction products were subsequently Southern blotted and hybridized. In patients with KS, HHV-8 DNA was detected in nine of 11 (81%) CD19+ cells, four of 11 (36%) CD2+ cells, three of 11 (27%) CD14+ cells, and nine of 11 (81%) of the remaining depleted cell populations (DP) that contain CD34 positive cells. In a subsequent set of experiments HHV-8 DNA was detected in 10 of 12 (83%) CD34 positive cell fractions. All cell subpopulations from the non-KS group were HHV-8 negative, with the exception of one positive B cell sample obtained from an HIV-infected patient. Our data demonstrate that in peripheral blood HHV-8 is detectable not only in CD19+ cells, as previously reported, but also in other cells, including T cells, monocytes, and cells devoid of specific lineage markers. We also show for the first time that CD34+ cells in peripheral blood of KS patients are a predominant HHV-8- harboring population, suggesting that they represent an additional important reservoir for this virus in vivo.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)613-616
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Investigative Dermatology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • Hemopoietic cells
  • Herpes virus
  • Neoplasia
  • Skin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology


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