Burkitt lymphoma (BL) is a highly aggressive non-Hodgkin lymphoma, composed of a monomorphic population of medium-sized B cells with a high proliferation rate and a consistent MYC translocation. Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) has been associated with BL with different frequencies depending on the clinical variant. Kaposi sarcoma–associated herpesvirus, or human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8), infects a wide range of normal cells, having a well-established role in the pathogenesis of various neoplasms, including Kaposi sarcoma, primary effusion lymphoma, multicentric Castleman disease (MCD) and MCD-associated plasmablastic lymphoma. In secondary immunodeficiencies, such as HIV-1 infection and organ transplantation, HHV-8 is considered an opportunistic pathogen linked to the development of lymphomas in patients with AIDS and HIV+ patients. We studied the association of EBV and HHV-8 by immunohistochemical analysis, in situ hybridization, and polymerase chain reaction in a large number of well-characterized BLs. EBV was present in 45.0% of all BL cases with higher incidence in the pediatric group; most cases were EBV type A. We found no association of BL with HHV-8 in EBV+ BL or in EBV– cases, including the HIV+ BL group.

Author notes

Supported by grants 5R01CA082274 and 5R01CA112217 from the National Cancer Institute (Dr Harrington) and the AIDS Malignancy Consortium (National Cancer Institute), Bethesda, MD.