Eighteen cases of AIDS related, non-Hodgkin's lymphomas were examined for the presence of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) genomes using in situ hybridisation with a 35S-labelled probe. The results were compared with those obtained independently by Southern blot analysis with a 32P-labelled probe of frozen tissue from the same tumours. Technically satisfactory results were obtained with both methods in 15 lymphomas. EBV DNA was detected in seven of 15 (47%) cases by in situ hybridisation and in eight of 15 (53%) cases by Southern blotting (including all the cases positive by in situ hybridisation). The results of EBV DNA detection by the two techniques were identical in 14 of 15 (93%) cases. In situ hybridisation gave no false positive results. This study shows that the sensitivity and specificity of in situ hybridisation for the detection of EBV genomes in AIDS related lymphomas approaches that of Southern blotting, even when using routinely processed archival, paraffin wax embedded material.
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