Summary Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH) is a group of granulomatous disorders in which abnormal Langerhans cells proliferate as either a localized lesion in a single bone or disseminated disease involving two or more organs or systems. Because the different LCH forms exhibit significantly elevated levels of inflammatory molecules, including pro-inflammatory cytokines and tissue-degrading enzymes, we investigated for a possible viral trigger in LCH pathogenesis. We looked for Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCPyV) in peripheral blood cells and tissues using quantitative real-time PCR and immunohistochemistry staining with anti-MCPyV large T-antigen antibody. Our findings revealed elevated amounts of MCPyV DNA in the peripheral blood cells of 2 of 3 patients affected by LCH with high-risk organ involvement (RO+) and absence of MCPyV DNA in the blood cells in all 12 LCH-RO- patients (P =.029). With lower viral loads (0.002-0.033 copies/cell), an elevated number of MCPyV DNA sequences was detected in 12 LCH tissues in comparison with control tissues obtained from patients with reactive lymphoid hyperplasia (0/5; P =.0007), skin diseases not related to LCH in children younger than 2 years (0/11; P =.0007), or dermatopathic lymphadenopathy (5/20; P =.0002). The data, including frequent but lower viral loads and low large-T antigen expression rate (2/13 LCH tissues), suggest that development of LCH as a reactive rather than a neoplastic process may be related to MCPyV infection.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine