HHV-8/KSHV during the development of Kaposi's sarcoma: evaluation by polymerase chain reaction and immunohistochemistry

J Cutan Pathol. 2005 Jan;32(1):21-7. doi: 10.1111/j.0303-6987.2005.00256.x.


The human gamma-herpes virus-8 (HHV-8) was first described in AIDS-related Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) tumour samples. In this study, we report comparative studies on paraffin-embedded biopsies of AIDS-related KS (AKS) and endemic KS (EKS) with regard to HHV-8 content as evaluated using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and immunohistochemistry. DNA was extracted either using Chelex-100 or using Qia-gene kit and was evaluated with the help of a semiquantitative PCR assay. The PCR detection of HHV-8 was more sensitive to the Chelex method than to Qia-gene. The threshold for PCR test sensitivity with the help of serial dilution of DNA was at the level of five plasmid ORF-26 regions, and DNA from 25 body cavity-based lymphoma-1 cells. The results expressed as virus load/actin unit showed progressively higher HHV-8 levels in late (nodular) cases, compared to those in early (patch/plaque) stages. Evaluation of HHV-8 DNA levels in tumour tissues, thus, indicates a correlation between virus load and KS stage. Double immunostaining of spindle cells (SC) in KS biopsies for CD34 and HHV-8/latency-associated nuclear antigen (LANA) showed an increase in double-positive SC in the lesions of nodular AKS and EKS cases, compared to that in plaque and patch stages. However, 10-15% of CD34+/LANA- SC cells were observed during the development from patch to nodular cases of AKS and EKS. Our results indicate that PCR analysis is a simple and sensitive diagnostic method for HHV-8 evaluation in KS tissues, processed for conventional histopathology.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / complications
  • Antigens, CD34 / analysis
  • Antigens, Viral / analysis
  • Cell Count
  • DNA, Neoplasm / analysis
  • DNA, Viral / isolation & purification*
  • Herpesvirus 8, Human / genetics
  • Herpesvirus 8, Human / immunology
  • Herpesvirus 8, Human / isolation & purification*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Nuclear Proteins / analysis
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Sarcoma, Kaposi / immunology
  • Sarcoma, Kaposi / pathology
  • Sarcoma, Kaposi / virology*
  • Skin Neoplasms / immunology
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology
  • Skin Neoplasms / virology*


  • Antigens, CD34
  • Antigens, Viral
  • DNA, Neoplasm
  • DNA, Viral
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • latency-associated nuclear antigen