Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is generally held to infect B cells and epithelial cells, although there are now reports of EBV infection in normal T cells and neoplastic T-cell diseases. In patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, EBV is associated with the benign epithelial lesion, hairy leukoplakia, and has been reported in up to 80% of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)-related B-cell lymphoma. This study shows the presence of EBV in malignant oral T-cell lymphoma in three AIDS patients, two of whom had concurrent manifestation of hairy leukoplakia. The T-cell lineage of the tumor cells was determined by positive immunophenotyping for T-cell markers and lack of B-cell or nonhematopoietic (cytokeratin) determinants. All tumors contained monoclonal T-cell populations shown by polymerase chain reaction, which showed amplification of T-cell receptor gamma chain DNA without evidence of Ig heavy chain gene rearrangement. Furthermore, these lesions showed the presence of EBV DNA and expression of EBV latent gene products in the tumor cells. EBV involvement in AIDS-related T-cell lymphoma has not been widely reported and may represent a further manifestation of opportunistic EBV infection arising in the HIV-immunocompromised host.

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