Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and Hodgkin's disease in a multi-ethnic population in Malaysia

Histopathology. 1997 Mar;30(3):227-33. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2559.1997.d01-594.x.


The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) has been implicated as a contributing factor in the development of Hodgkin's disease. Western cases of Hodgkin's disease have shown the presence of EBV in Hodgkin and Reed-Sternberg cells in approximately 50%. We studied a total of 100 consecutive cases of Hodgkin's disease from Malaysia, with the aim to elucidate its association with EBV in a multi-ethnic Asian population. Of 34 patients (34%) less than 15 years of age (childhood), 25 had classical Hodgkin's disease (eight nodular sclerosis, 16 mixed cellularity, one lymphocyte depleted) and nine had lymphocyte predominance Hodgkin's disease. Of the 66 from patients aged 15 years and above, 33 had nodular sclerosis, 24 mixed cellularity, two lymphocyte depleted, one unclassifiable and six lymphocyte predominance Hodgkin's disease. The ethnic distribution of classical Hodgkin's disease was: Malay 23, Chinese 32 and Indian 30 (Malay:Chinese:Indian = 1:1.4:1.3), and the ethnic distribution in the 15 cases of lymphocyte predominance Hodgkin's disease was: Malay four, Chinese 10 and Indian one. Taking into account the ethnic distribution of the general population and of hospital admissions, there appears to be a significant predilection of classical Hodgkin's disease cases in ethnic Indian compared to non-Indian patients (chi-squared test, 0.025 > P > 0.01). Eighty-one cases were tested for the presence of EBV by in situ hybridization for EBV encoded RNA, and 57 cases by immunostaining for EBV latent membrane protein 1. In the younger age group, all except one of the 15 cases (nine mixed cellularity, six nodular sclerosis) showed the presence of EBV (93%). In the older age group, EBV was detected (52%) in the following proportion: 6/27 nodular sclerosis, 19/22 mixed cellularity, 1/2 lymphocyte depleted, 1/1 unclassifiable. None of the 14 cases of lymphocyte predominance Hodgkin's disease showed the presence of EBV in the Hodgkin and Reed-Sternberg cells. The findings suggest a strong association of EBV with Hodgkin's disease in Malaysians (41/67, 61%), in particular childhood cases (93%). In adults, the association with EBV is significantly higher in the mixed cellularity subtype (86%) compared with the nodular sclerosis subtype (22%).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Ethnicity*
  • Herpesviridae Infections / ethnology
  • Herpesviridae Infections / pathology
  • Herpesviridae Infections / virology*
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / isolation & purification*
  • Hodgkin Disease* / ethnology
  • Hodgkin Disease* / virology
  • Humans
  • Malaysia / ethnology
  • Middle Aged
  • Tumor Virus Infections / ethnology
  • Tumor Virus Infections / pathology
  • Tumor Virus Infections / virology*