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Giornale Italiano di Dermatologia e Venereologia 1999 August;134(4):315-20

Copyright © 1999 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: Italian

HHV8 infection and Kaposi’s sarcoma

Masini C. 1, Lesnoni La Parola I. 1, Capuano M. 1, Cattani P. 2, Cerimele F. 2, Fadda G. 2, Cerimele D. 1

1 Università Cattolica S. Cuore - Roma, Istituto di Clinica Dermatologica; 2 Università Cattolica S. Cuore - Roma, Istituto di Microbiologia


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The discovery of a new human herpesvirus, named human herpesvirus type 8 (HHV8), in Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS) tissue of patients with AIDS, has opened new perspectives in understanding the pathogenesis of this neoplasm. HHV8 DNA has been found in all forms of KS, not just in the skin, but also in the peripheral blood and other organs and systems of nearly all the patients. In addition, HHV8 can be detected in lymphoproliferative diseases, such as body cavity-based lymphomas and multicentric Castleman’s disease, and in patients affected by angiosarcoma. A portion of the virus has been sequenced, showing that HHV8 is equipped with genes that could confer oncogenic potential. The virus is probably transmitted by sexual route, but other modes of transmission are also possible. The recently developed serologic assays for antiviral antibodies allowed an initial estimate of the prevalence of HHV8 infection in the general population, which seems to be related to the incidence of KS. HHV8 could be considered the infectious cofactor involved in the pathogenesis of KS.

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