Background: Human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8) has been detected in Kaposi sarcoma (KS) and other lesions in patients both seropositive and seronegative for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Kaposi sarcoma has been reported to develop in a disproportionate number of patients with pemphigus. Since HHV-8 is so strongly associated with KS, we wondered whether HHV-8 is present in pemphigus lesions from patients without KS or HIV infection. Pemphigus lesions and skin from healthy individuals were coded in a blinded fashion. Tissue-extracted DNA was tested using polymerase chain reaction, Southern blot hybridization, and automated sequencing of the polymerase chain reaction products for the presence of HHV-8 DNA. Six patients had pemphigus foliaceus, 6 had pemphigus vulgaris, and 2 had KS; 10 healthy individuals were used as controls. All 24 patients were HIV seronegative. Observation: Lesional skin from 4 of the 6 patients with pemphigus vulgaris, all 6 of the patients with pemphigus foliaceus, and both positive controls (KS) tested positive for HHV- 8 DNA. Furthermore, the HHV-8 DNA sequences for KS330233 differed between all 6 DNA specimens from pemphigus foliaceus, while 3 of the 4 DNA specimens from pemphigus vulgaris were identical. However, HHV-8 DNA was absent in all normal human skin analyzed. Conclusions: This report expands the spectrum of lesions found to contain HHV-8 DNA sequences and suggests that HHV-8 might have trophism for pemphigus lesions.
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