Presence of Epstein-Barr virus harbouring small and intermediate-sized cells in Hodgkin's disease. Is there a relationship with Reed-Sternberg cells?

J Pathol. 1993 Jun;170(2):129-36. doi: 10.1002/path.1711700206.


Forty-four cases of Hodgkin's disease (HD), mostly of the nodular sclerosing type, were investigated for the presence of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and DNA and RNA in situ hybridization (DISH, RISH), as well as by immunohistochemistry for the detection of latent membrane protein-1 (LMP-1) of EBV. In situ hybridization (ISH) was combined with immunohistochemistry to correlate the presence and activity of the virus at the cellular level. In 18/34 (53 per cent) cases, EBV-DNA sequences could be detected with the PCR method. In 12/18 positive cases, DISH and RISH were also positive. In the remaining six EBV-PCR positive cases, two were also positive with RISH and LMP-1, whereas no positive signal with DISH could be obtained. All DISH and/or RISH positive cases were also positive for LMP-1. With RISH, not only the Reed-Sternberg cells and their mononuclear variants (RS cells) stained positive, but also small and intermediate cells frequently reacted with the EBV-specific probes (EBER-1 and -2). Double staining with cellular markers (CD3, CD20, CD45, CD45RO, CD68, and the lectin PNA) revealed that most of the smaller EBER-positive cells frequently did not express T, B, or histiocytic markers, but that they, as well as the RS cells, showed cytoplasmic and membranous staining with PNA. These smaller EBER-positive cells were not found in EBV-PCR negative HD. EBER-positive RS cells were almost always LMP-1 positive, as well as a substantial proportion of the intermediate-sized cells, whereas the majority of the small EBER-positive cells remained LMP-1 negative.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • DNA, Viral / analysis
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / genetics
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / isolation & purification*
  • Hodgkin Disease / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Reed-Sternberg Cells / microbiology*


  • DNA, Viral