Blood Journal
Leading the way in experimental and clinical research in hematology

Epstein-Barr virus and familial Hodgkin's disease

  1. AY Lin,
  2. DW Kingma,
  3. ET Lennette,
  4. TR Fears,
  5. JM Whitehouse,
  6. RF Ambinder,
  7. ES Jaffe,
  8. PH Levine, and
  9. MA Tucker
  1. Genetic Epidemiology Branche, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.

Abstract

Several studies suggest that the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is etiologically linked to Hodgkin's disease (HD). This study was undertaken to examine the role of EBV in familial HD (FHD). Among 60 FHD patients from 27 families with two or more cases per family, we tested available paraffinized tumor tissues from 46 cases by in situ hybridization for EBV-encoded RNA (EBER1) expression. Thirteen of 46 FHD patients (28%) had EBER1 expressed in the Reed-Sternberg cells. Concordance rate of EBV positivity was evaluated among 34 first-degree related pairs from 17 families for which both cases had available paraffinized tumor tissues. Only two of 17 pairs were concordant for EBER1 positivity. There was no excess of positive concordance (P = .18). Serologically, FHD patients had higher geometric mean antibody titers (GMTs) to the viral capsid antigen (VCA) and early antigen D (EA-D). There was no difference in seroprevalence between patients and control groups, nor was there concordance in elevated serology among 15 pairs of first-degree related FHD cases. Young adult unaffected family members (UFM) may not react to EBV in the same way as the general population as evidenced by the lower titer of VCA, although not statistically significant, and significantly lower titers of EA-D, compared with age-matched controls. While EBV might have some role in a subset of HD, lack of concordance of EBER1 expression and EBV serology among the FHD cases in the same family suggest that EBV does not play an important role in FHD.