AIMS--To determine if there is an association between Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection and Hodgkin's disease. METHODS--Fifty cases of Hodgkin's disease and 25 reactive lymph nodes were screened for the presence of EBV-RNA (EBER) using in situ hybridisation, and for the expression of EBV encoded latent membrane protein 1 (LMP-1) by immunohistochemistry. RESULTS--In 42% of the cases of Hodgkin's disease, EBER was detected in the nuclei of the malignant cells, and in LMP-1 expression was found 36%. Both EBER and LMP-1 positivity were seen in 34% of the cases. An additional finding was the presence of LMP-1 on follicular dendritic cells in residual germinal centres in two cases of Hodgkin's disease. EBER was not detected in these germinal centres. In reactive lymph nodes only occasional EBER positive, small, lymphoid cells were found, without LMP-1 expression. CONCLUSIONS--These results show a strong correlation between the presence of EBER and the LMP-1 expression in the Reed-Sternberg cells. They corroborate a role for EBV in at least some cases of Hodgkin's disease. LMP-1 is probably presented as an immune complex in the germinal centres, as part of an immune response against EBV.
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