Common cytological and cytogenetic features of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-positive natural killer (NK) cells and cell lines derived from patients with nasal T/NK-cell lymphomas, chronic active EBV infection and hydroa vacciniforme-like eruptions


Dr Norio Shimizu, Department of Virology, Division of Virology and Immunology, Medical Research Institute, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, 1-5-45 Yushima, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113–8510, Japan. E-mail:


Summary. In this study, we describe the cytological and cytogenetic features of six Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-infected natural killer (NK) cell clones. Three cell clones, SNK-1, -3 and -6, were derived from patients with nasal T/NK-cell lymphomas; two cell clones, SNK-5 and -10, were isolated from patients with chronic active EBV infection (CAEBV); and the other cell clone, SNK-11, was from a patient with hydroa vacciniforme (HV)-like eruptions. An analysis of the number of EBV-terminal repeats showed that the SNK cell clones had monoclonal EBV genomes identical to the original EBV-infected cells of the respective patients, and SNK cells had the type II latency of EBV infection, suggesting that not only the cell clones isolated from nasal T/NK-cell lymphomas but also those isolated from CAEBV and HV-like eruptions had been transformed by EBV to a certain degree. Cytogenetic analysis detected deletions in chromosome 6q in five out of the six SNK cell clones, while 6q was not deleted in four control cell lines of T-cell lineage. This suggested that a 6q deletion is a characteristic feature of EBV-positive NK cells, which proliferated in the diseased individuals. The results showed that EBV-positive NK cells in malignant and non-malignant lymphoproliferative diseases shared common cytological and cytogenetic features.