Human herpesvirus-8 (HHV-8) encodes viral homologues of cellular genes, including viral interleukin 6 (vIL-6), which induces endogenous human IL-6 (hIL-6) secretion. Unregulated overproduction of hIL-6 in lymph nodes (LN) is thought to be responsible for the systemic manifestations of multicentric Castleman's disease (MCD). In the present study, we assessed the presence of HHV-8 and HHV-8-encoded viral homologues in LN and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from adult Japanese patients with MCD. HHV-8 DNA was amplified by nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and was detected in LN from 13 out of 16 MCD patients (81%). HHV-8 DNA was also detected in PBMC from six out of seven patients (86%) whose LN were positive for HHV-8 DNA. Because mRNA could not be successfully extracted from LN sections that were either formalin-fixed or embedded in paraffin, we examined the expression of mRNA for HHV-8-encoded viral homologues, such as vIL-6, vBCL-2, vCyclin-D and viral G-protein-coupled receptor (vGPCR) by nested reverse transcription (RT)-PCR in PBMC from 10 MCD patients. However, mRNA of these HHV-8-encoded viral homologues was not detected in any patients tested. Although our results do not indicate a role for HHV-8-encoded viral homologues in the pathogenesis of MCD, they do suggest that HHV-8 infection may be associated with MCD in adult Japanese patients.
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