Hepatitis C and G viruses in B-cell lymphomas of the skin


Werner Kempf, MD, Department of Dermatology, University Hospital, Gloriastrasse 31, CH-8091 Zurich, Switzerland
Tel: +41 1 255 25 50
Fax: +41 1 255 44 03
e-mail: wkempf@hotmail.com


Background:  The etiology of B-cell lymphoproliferative disorders (LPDs) of the skin has still to be elucidated. So far, Borrelia sp. has been identified as the causative agent of some cases of B-cell LPDs of the skin. Apart from bacterial pathogens, recent studies suggested that also flaviviruses, in particular hepatitis C (HCV) and G (HGV) viruses, may be involved in the pathogenesis of B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphomas (NHLs). Most studies were performed in patients with known HCV infection, but the overall frequency of HCV- and HGV-RNA in tumoral tissue of primary cutaneous B-cell lymphomas (CBCLs) is unknown.

Methods:  We examined 23 tumor biopsies of various forms of CBCLs by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and sequencing for the presence of HCV and HGV.

Results:  HCV-RNA sequences were detected in seven of 23 (30%) of the tumor biopsies. In contrast, RNA sequences of HGV were not detected in any of the tumors.

Conclusions:  Interestingly, the presence of HCV in our series of primary CBCLs was not restricted to a distinct clinicopathologic subform. HCV which can infect B cells, may play a role in pathogenesis of one-third of CBCLs, whereas HGV is not involved in CBCLs. Further molecular studies and therapeutic trials are needed to clarify the putative pathogenetic role of HCV in CBCLs.