Post-transplant Kaposi sarcoma originates from the seeding of donor-derived progenitors

An Erratum to this article was published on 01 July 2003


Kaposi sarcoma (KS) is a vascular tumor that can develop in recipients of solid tissue transplants as a result of either primary infection or reactivation of a gammaherpesvirus, the KS- associated herpesvirus, also known as human herpesvirus-8 (HHV-8). We studied whether HHV-8 and the elusive KS progenitor cells could be transmitted from the donor through the grafts. We used a variety of molecular, cytogenetic, immunohistochemical and immunofluorescence methods to show that the HHV-8–infected neoplastic cells in post-transplant KS from five of eight renal transplant patients harbored either genetic or antigenic markers of their matched donors. These data suggest the use of donor-derived HHV-8–specific T cells for the control of post-transplant KS.

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Figure 1: Micromanipulation of KS tumor cells and PCR detection of donor genetic markers in isolated tumor cells from the renal recipients.
Figure 2: Microsatellite analysis at the amelogenin and D8S1179 loci from the microdissected KS, unaffected epidermis and peripheral blood from patients 1–3, 7 and 8.
Figure 3: Detection of Y chromosome by fluorescence in situ hybridization in patient 3.
Figure 4: Detection of donor HLA class I antigen by immunohistochemistry and double immunofluorescence in patient 6.


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This study was supported by the Associazione Italiana per la Ricerca sul Cancro, Milan, Italy (M.L.). We thank G. Santagostino, R. Ricci, L. Bignardi, F. Cardarelli, A. Savazzi, G. Pizov and D. Rubinger for providing the KS biopsies and the clinical data from the renal transplant patients; G. Beduschi for contributing to the microsatellite analysis; and E. Cesarman for enlightening discussion.

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Correspondence to Mario Luppi.

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Barozzi, P., Luppi, M., Facchetti, F. et al. Post-transplant Kaposi sarcoma originates from the seeding of donor-derived progenitors. Nat Med 9, 554–561 (2003).

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