We investigated 81 cases of peripheral pleomorphic T-cell lymphoma (PMTCL) occurring in human immunodeficiency virus-negative Europeans for the presence of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-DNA through polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for the presence of EBV-encoded small nuclear RNAs (EBER) and immediate early mRNAs (Bam H-fragment, lower strand frame [BHLF]) by in situ hybridization (ISH) and for EBV-encoded latent membrane protein (LMP) and nuclear antigen 2 (EBNA2) by immunohistology (IH). EBER-ISH, which could be applied on all cases, showed an overall incidence of EBV-infected cells in 38 of 81 cases (47%) of PMTCL. These data could be confirmed by PCR, which produced congruent results in the cases with amplifiable DNA. By EBER-ISH, the virus was located in the tumor cells in 30 of the 38 EBV-positive cases, with the proportion of the infected cells ranging from 1% to 100%. In 18 of these cases and in the 8 cases without EBV-infected tumor cells, the virus was, respectively, either additionally or exclusively detectable in occasional nonmalignant lymphoid bystander cells. An LMP expression was observed in several of the EBER-expressing tumor cells in 18 cases, whereas EBNA2 was detectable only in one case, which also displayed signs of viral replication. Some nonmalignant EBV-infected B immunoblasts also expressed LMP in several cases. Primary cutaneous and enteropathy-associated PMTCL displayed less frequent EBV infection when compared with other extranodal or nodal manifestations.

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