Detection of Epstein-Barr virus in Hodgkin's disease occurring in an oriental population

John K.C. Chan, Timothy T.C. Yip, William Y.W. Tsang, Wai hon Lau, Sze Chuen Cesar Wong, Victor W.S. Ma

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41 Citations (Scopus)


Like Burkitt's lymphoma, the strength of association of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) with Hodgkin's disease occurring in different populations and clinical settings is highly variable, being 30% to 50% in Western countries, nearly 100% in Third World countries like Peru and Honduras, and nearly 100% in patients seropositive for human immunodeficiency virus. Data on the Oriental populations are very limited. Therefore, the current study was performed on the Chinese population of Hong Kong, where the incidence of Hodgkin's disease is low and EBV seroconversion occurs early in life. Twenty-three consecutive samples of Hodgkin's disease collected from 18 male and five female patients over a 12-year period were studied. The first age peak occurred in the second decade of life and the second peak in the seventh decade. Using the sensitive and specific EBV-encoded RNAs (EBERs) in situ localization technique, positive labeling of the Reed-Sternberg cells and their variants was detected in five of five samples (100%) of mixed cellularity, nine of 16 samples (56%) of nodular sclerosing, one of one sample (100%) of lymphocyte depleted, and none of one sample (0%) of nodular lymphocyte predominant Hodgkin's disease. Further analysis of the data by age group yielded the following results: four of five (80%) for age younger than 15 years, three of nine (33%) for age 15 to 49, and eight of nine (89%) for age 50 or higher, confirming the reported strong association of EBV with Hodgkin's disease at the extremes of life. The overall positivity rate was 65%, which was intermediate between that reported in the Western populations and that in the Third World countries. These findings can be explained by the epidemiological pattern of Hodgkin's disease in Hong Kong, in which the first age peak is left-shifted to a younger age compared with that of Western populations (but not as early as that observed in Third World countries), moving the peak toward an age bracket in which Hodgkin's disease shows stronger association with EBV.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)314-318
Number of pages5
JournalHuman Pathology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • epidemiology
  • Epstein-Barr virus
  • Epstein-Barr virus-encoded RNAs
  • Hodgkin's disease
  • labeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine

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