AIMS: The recent finding that human herpes virus 8 (HHV8) is found in the majority of Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) cases supports the epidemiological observation that the tumour may be caused by an infectious agent. This study aimed to address when and how HHV8 evolved. METHODS: A cohort of African endemic KS (49 samples from 45 patients) and European KS (18 samples from 13 patients), spanning 27 years, was assessed for the presence of HHV8 by both standard solution phase polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and the newly described technique of TaqMan PCR. RESULTS: HHV8 was present in approximately 49% (24 of 49 tissue samples) of the African cases and in more than 90% (16 of 18 tissue samples) of the European cohort, in keeping with recent seroepidemiological data. CONCLUSIONS: HHV8 is strongly linked to the development of KS; however, in some patients, other factors may operate. The utility and flexibility of TaqMan PCR in detecting low copy viral target in human tissues was demonstrated.
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