Twenty‐six of 27 African Burkitt lymphomas with histologically confirmed diagnosis contained relatively large amounts of EBV DNA (10–101 viral genomes per cell), as determined by nucleic acid hybridization. Twenty‐five of the 26 EBV DNA‐positive lymphomas contained the EBV‐determined nuclear antigen, EBNA, in the majority of the nuclei. Technical reasons may have accounted for the apparent EBNA‐negativity of one EBV DNA‐positive biopsy. Four African lymphoma biopsies, one with a definite diagnosis of Burkitt's lymphoma and three with a questionable diagnosis of the same disease, were all EBV DNA‐ and EBNA‐negative. The same was true for a collection of Swedish cases of Hodgkin's disease, lymphocytic lymphoma, chronic lymphatic leukemia and some other lymphoproliferative malignancies. Thus, there is excellent agreement between the presence of EBV DNA and of EBNA in tumor biopsies. The EBNA antigen test therefore appears a relatively simple way of testing for the presence of the virus genome, provided it is carried out with appropriate controls. Several of the EBV‐genome and EBNA‐negative cases came from patients with high serum titers of EBV antibodies. It is concluded that the virus does not really travel along with malignant lymphomas as a passenger in the seropositive patients. In comparison with other lymphomas, African Burkitt's lymphoma of the high endemic areas is unique in that the tumors (with rare exceptions) represent the proliferation of an EBV‐genome carrying clone. These findings stress the necessity to distinguish between EBV‐seropositive status and evidence for EBV‐genome‐carrying neoplastic cells.
International Journal of Cancer – Wiley
Published: Jun 15, 1974
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