Kaposi's Sarcoma: Clinico-pathological Analysis of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Non-HIV Associated Cases

Angela HONG1, C Soon LEE2

1Department of Radiation Oncology, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, New South Wales, Australia
2Department of Anatomical Pathology, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital,, New South Wales, Australia


Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) is a angioformative lesion that classically occurs in elderly Eastern European and Mediterranean males but is also common in immunosuppressed individuals particularly human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected patients. This study investigates the clinical and histopathological features of 47 patients with Kaposi’s sarcoma from a teaching hospital in Sydney, Australia, in which 44 cases had adequate clinical follow-up information over a 10-year period. Most of the lesions were of late stage (37/47 cases; 79%), consisting of 11 cases of plaque stage KS and 26 cases of nodular stage KS with only 10 cases of early or patch stage KS. The majority of the HIV-positive cases (23/33; 70%) and all of the HIV-negative (14/14; 100%) cases had late stage lesions (p=0.020; X 2 -test). The histopathological features that were more common in the KS lesions of HIV-negative patients were lesional cell mitosis (p=0.0002), single cell necrosis (p=0.001), apoptosis (p=0.0001) and single cell anaplasia (p=0.0001). The KS lesions in HIV-positive patients tended to have dissecting blood vessels (14/33 cases; 42%) unlike those seen in HIV-negative patients (0/14 cases; 0%) (p=0.004). Most HIV-positive cases (30/33; 90%) were males (p=0.0068); and all these patients (33/33 cases; 100%) were <60 years old, in contrast to HIV-negative patients (1/11 cases; 9%) (p=0.0001). HIV status does not affect the occurrence of multiplicity of KS lesions. However, extracutaneous or visceral KS lesions were more likely to occur in HIV-positive patients (p=0.027). The number of cases of histologically proven KS cases has decreased markedly over the recent 5 year period of 1995-1999 (n=14), which was less than half of the number of the preceding 5 year period, 1990-1994 (n=33). In summary, there are distinct differences in the clinical and histopathological features of Kaposi’s sarcoma lesions in HIV-positive and HIV-negative patients. Despite the recent discovery of the HHV8 virus as the initiating and promoting factor of most of the KS lesions, these differences indicated that there might be different mechanisms that occur in HIV-positive and HIV-negative patients in the development of this lesion. Pathology & Oncology Research, Vol 8, Nr 1, 31-35, 2002

Key words: Kaposi’s sarcoma; human immunodeficiency virus; HIV; neoplasia; human herpesvirus 8; HHV8

Received: Nov 20, 2001; accepted: Feb 10, 2002
Correspondence: C Soon LEE, Department of Anatomical Pathology, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital,, Mis-senden Road, Camperdown New South Wales 2050, Australia, Fax: 61-2-9515 8405; E-mail:

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