Heterogeneity of Epstein-Barr virus infection in angioimmunoblastic lymphadenopathy type T-cell lymphoma



To investigate the relationship of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and angioimmunoblastic lymphadenopathy with dysproteinemia, we performed DNA analysis using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), Southern blot, in situ hybridization, and immunohistochemical analysis of lymph nodes in five patients who were followed up and biopsied more than once. In the course of the disease, nodal architecture diminished, cellular atypia worsened, and clear cells increased in number. In the DNA analysis of the receptor genes, the clonal population increased in number. EBV nucleic acid sequences were found by either PCR or in situ hybridization in all examined nodes. The number of EBV-positive cells varied widely among the cases and throughout the course of the disease in the same patients. The analysis of EBV terminal repeats or lymphocyte-determined membrane antigen genes showed polyclonal populations of EB-infected cells. EBV-positive cells possessed intermediate- to large-sized nuclei, and the cells with large nuclei, especially, expressed latent membrane protein of EBV. These large cells varied in number among the cases. Double-labelling immunohistochemistry/in situ hybridization studies demonstrated that most of the EBV-positive cells expressed B-cell antigen (CD20). The presence of EBV seems to be associated with the selective defects of the immune system, rather than with the direct pathogenesis of angioimmunoblastic lymphadenopathy.