Clonal Epstein-Barr virus in lymphoepithelioma-like carcinoma of the lung

Am J Surg Pathol. 1993 Jul;17(7):678-82. doi: 10.1097/00000478-199307000-00004.


Lymphoepithelioma of the nasopharynx is an undifferentiated carcinoma with a prominent lymphoid infiltrate. A consistent association with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) has been demonstrated over the years by a variety of methods. More recently, undifferentiated carcinomas with a similar morphology have been described in other anatomical locations, often of foregut origin. However, for lymphoepithelioma-like carcinoma, the association with EBV has been more tenuous, especially in Western countries. Interestingly, these tumors have shown a geographic distribution similar to nasopharyngeal lymphoepithelioma, with relatively high frequency of EBV positive cases in Asian patients. We report five cases of lymphoepithelioma-like carcinoma arising in the lung. In situ hybridization revealed the presence of EBV in all cases with localization to the epithelial cells only. Southern-blot analysis from two cases revealed the presence of clonal episomal EBV in the tumor tissue. These findings further support the hypothesis that EBV is also associated with lymphoepithelioma-like lung carcinomas and suggest that EBV infection has preceded the clonal expansion of the tumor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blotting, Southern
  • Carcinoma / genetics
  • Carcinoma / microbiology*
  • Carcinoma / pathology*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology*
  • DNA, Viral / analysis
  • Genome, Viral
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / genetics
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / isolation & purification*
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Lung Neoplasms / genetics
  • Lung Neoplasms / microbiology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged


  • DNA, Viral