Epstein-Barr virus-infected T lymphocytes in Epstein-Barr virus-associated hemophagocytic syndrome.


The clonal composition of EBV-infected cells was examined in three cases of EBV-associated hemophagocytic syndrome by analysis of the heterogeneity of terminal repetitive sequences in the EBV genome, indicating monoclonal expansion of EBV-infected cells in all cases. Involvement of T lymphoid cells was determined by in situ hybridization using 35S-labeled RNA probes specific for the small EBV-encoded nuclear RNAs, EBER1 and EBER2, in combination with immunostaining for the TCR-beta chain, CD45RO, CD20, CD30 and CD68 antigens in these three cases. The majority of lymphoid cells showing EBER transcripts were stained by antibodies against CD45RO and T cell receptor-beta. In contrast, EBER-specific signals were not detectable on B cells or hemophagocytic cells. These data support the concept that EBV-associated T cell proliferation is a primary feature of EBV-AHS.

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