Presence of chromosomal abnormalities and lack of AIDS retrovirus DNA sequences in AIDS-associated Kaposi's sarcoma
Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome
The frequent occurrence of Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) in association with the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) could be due to the fact that the etiological agent of this tumor is the same retrovirus causing AIDS, to another oncogenic virus frequently found in AIDS patients, or to the unmasking of the tumorigenic potential of KS cells by immunosuppression. We have therefore investigated the presence of DNA sequences homologous to the AIDS retrovirus, cytomegalovirus (CMV), and hepatitis B virus in 13 KS necropsies and biopsies from AIDS patients. All KS DNA samples were negative for AIDS retrovirus or hepatitis B DNA sequences. Two DNAs from necropsies contained CMV DNA, but the data suggested the presence of replicating CMV DNA due to generalized infection. We have also studied cell cultures derived from KS skin biopsies of AIDS patients. These cultures had a short lifetime in vitro and expressed some markers of endothelial cells. The cells were not tumorigenic in nude mice but contained a number of chromosomal rearrangements which were often monoclonal within the same culture. However, these abnormalities were different from culture to culture and even in cultures from the same biopsy. The presence of these chromosomal abnormalities seemed to correlate with the cell positivity for endothelial markers. Taken together these results indicate that neither the AIDS retrovirus, CMV, or hepatitis B virus is directly responsible for the altered growth of KS cells, that KS may be polyclonal even within the same lesion, and that KS cells have a tendency to karyotypic rearrangements.