Background: HHV-8 has been identified as the causative agent of Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) and some lymphoproliferative disorders. In addition, there are anecdotal reports on the presence of HHV-8 in other tumors, especially cutaneous epithelial and mesenchymal neoplasms. The aim of the study was to ascertain the value of identification of HHV-8 viral DNA sequences in routinely processed, formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissues for the diagnosis of Kaposi's sarcoma and other mesenchymal tumors.
Methods: The presence of HHV-8 sequences in archival material was studied by nested PCR using specific primers for amplification of a 233-bp long fragment of HHV-8 (ORF 26).
Results: Thirty-three patients with KS (18 classic/sporadic, six post-transplant and nine AIDS-related) and various mesenchymal tumors and related conditions (n = 76) were studied. HHV-8 DNA sequences were detected in 29 of the 33 cases of KS and in one case of multiple eruptive dermatofibroma (MEDF).
Conclusions: Identification of HHV-8 DNA sequences in routinely processed tissue is a useful diagnostic marker for KS. Although other mesenchymal tumors are usually not associated with HHV-8, its presence is not fully specific for KS since HHV-8 sequences were also found in one case of MEDF. Therefore, PCR analysis for the detection of HHV-8 should only be used as an additional diagnostic marker for KS and in the context of other tools such as routine histology.