Kaposi's sarcoma cells express the macrophage-associated antigen mannose receptor and develop in peripheral blood cultures of Kaposi's sarcoma patients

Am J Pathol. 1997 Mar;150(3):929-38.


The mannose receptor (MR) is a surface 175-kd C-type lectin expressed by macrophages and dendritic cells. MR is involved in removal of effete cells, phagocytosis of mannose-coated particles, pinocytosis, and antigen presentation. Expression of MR was investigated in 17 biopsies of Kaposi's sarcoma (3 AIDS KS, 13 classical KS, and 1 transplant-associated KS) using three anti-MR monoclonal antibodies (3.29, D547, and PAM1). Immunostaining for MR was detected in 94 +/- 7% KS cells with spindle morphology. In normal tissues, MR was expressed by sinus-lining cells of spleen and lymph nodes, but it was not detected in endothelial cells lining normal hematic and lymphatic vessels, hemangioma, hemangioendothelioma, and lymphangioma. Expression of MR in KS cells prompted us to investigate the possibility that they derive from a circulating precursor cell. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells from 16 patients with KS (10 classical, 1 transplanted, and 5 AIDS) were cultured in PHA-conditioned medium for 10 to 14 days. Confluent monolayers of adherent spindle cells were detected in 8 of 11 classical KS, in 5 of 5 AIDS KS patients, and in 0 of 34 control patients. Peripheral-blood-derived KS-like cells were characterized by co-expression of macrophage and endothelial antigens being positive for CD45 (60%), CD68 (98%), MR (70%), CD14 (25%), VE-cadherin (70%), and von Willebrand factor (10%). When the immunophenotype of peripheral-blood-derived adherent cells was compared with that of KS spindle cells of tissue biopsies, it was found that both cell types are VE-cadherin+/MR+/CD68+, that peripheral-blood-derived spindle cells are CD34- and are less frequently stained for CD31 and von Willebrand factor, and that lesional KS cells do not express the leukocyte markers CD45 and CD18. Our findings are consistent with the possibility that KS lesions derive from tissue accumulation and local proliferation of a special subset of macrophages with endothelial features the normal counterpart of which are the sinus-lining cells of spleen and lymph nodes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / complications
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Female
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Ki-67 Antigen / analysis
  • Lectins / biosynthesis*
  • Lectins, C-Type*
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Macrophages / pathology
  • Male
  • Mannose Receptor
  • Mannose-Binding Lectins*
  • Middle Aged
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / biosynthesis*
  • Sarcoma, Kaposi / blood*
  • Sarcoma, Kaposi / pathology


  • Ki-67 Antigen
  • Lectins
  • Lectins, C-Type
  • Mannose Receptor
  • Mannose-Binding Lectins
  • Receptors, Cell Surface