Background: Studies have reported differing frequencies of detection of polyomavirus simian virus 40 (SV40) in association with human lymphomas.
Objective: We addressed the hypothesis that SV40 positivity in lymphomas can vary among sampled populations.
Study design: Archival paraffin-embedded lymphoma specimens (n=171) from patients at two urban hospitals in Houston, TX, USA, were analyzed following a cross-sectional study design. Extracted DNAs were characterized by quantitative polymerase chain reaction for the cellular RNase P gene and for SV40 and herpesvirus Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) sequences.
Results: Patient characteristics of the two study populations differed significantly whereas the classification of tumor types studied did not. SV40 DNA was detected more frequently in lymphomas from the public hospital population (10/44, 23%) than in lymphomas from the veterans' hospital (VAMC) (4/127, 3%; P<0.0001). EBV detection in lymphomas also differed between the two groups (17/44, 39% vs. 23/127, 18%; P=0.01). SV40 positivity was associated with a younger age category of VAMC lymphoma patients (P=0.02). Expression of T-antigen was detected by immunohistochemistry in half of lymphomas that contained SV40 DNA. Variation was observed in the quality and quantity of DNA recovered from paraffin-embedded specimens, but there was no difference in recoveries of DNA from samples from the two hospitals.
Conclusions: This study demonstrated that, in a direct comparison, the prevalence of SV40 DNA in lymphomas can differ significantly between groups with different demographic distributions.