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  • Oral presentation
  • Open Access

Human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8) “in vitro” infection of human placental histocultures

  • 1,
  • 2,
  • 2,
  • 3,
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  • 5,
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  • 6 and
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Retrovirology20085 (Suppl 1) :O4

  • Published:


  • Endothelial Cell
  • Birth Weight
  • Culture Supernatant
  • Immunohistochemistry Analysis
  • Vertical Transmission


Most human Herpesvirus infect placental cells and may be harmful in pregnancy, leading to obstetrical and/or neonatal complications. Although a correlation between human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8) infection and abortion or low birth weight in children has been reported [1, 2] presently no information has been published regarding HHV-8 tropism for placenta.

Materials and methods

In this study, a placenta histoculture system was used to evaluate the susceptibility of placental cells to “in vitro” HHV-8 infection. Quantitative detection of HHV-8 was performed by real-time PCR, and virus expression was evaluated by immunohistochemistry for latent and lytic HHV-8 antigens.


Increasing amounts of HHV-8 DNA were detected in placental tissues and culture supernatants and immunohistochemistry analyses demonstrated that both cyto- and syncitiotrophoblasts, as well as placental endothelial cells, expressed latent (see Figure 1) and lytic antigens. In addition, relevant apoptotic phenomena were observed in infected histocultures.
Figure 1
Figure 1

Immunohistochemical detection of the HHV-8 LANA protein in placental histocultures. Specific reactivity was visualized with immunoperoxidase staining using anti-LANA-1 monoclonal antibodies with a DAB developer (brown colour) and haematoxylin counterstaining. (A) HHV-8-infected CRO-AP/3 cells showed a strongly positive nuclear immunostaining. (B) HHV-8-infected placental histocultures showed positive immunostaining in cytotrophoblasts (yellow arrow), syncytiotrophoblasts (blue arrow) and endothelial cells (white arrow). (C) Mock-infected placental histocultures. Original magnifications, X100.


We here demonstrated for the first time that HHV-8, like other human herpesviruses, may productively infect placental cells in vitro, thus providing evidence that this phenomenon might influence vertical transmission and pregancy outcome in HHV-8-infected women.



This work was supported by grants from Istituto Superiore di Sanità (grant n. 50G.3, MLC; grant n. 50G.29, JRF) and from Associazione Italiana per la Ricerca sul Cancro (MLC). MB was the recipient of a fellowship from Associazione Italiana per la Lotta contro le Leucemie, Linfomi e Mieloma (AIL).

Authors’ Affiliations

Laboratory of Molecular Medicine, University of Foggia, Foggia, Italy
Istituto Oncologico Veneto, IRCCS, Immunology and Diagnostic Molecular Oncology, Padova, Italy
Laboratory of Histology, School of Medicine, University of Foggia, Italy
Department of Oncology and Surgical Sciences, Oncology Section, University of Padova, Padova, Italy
Department of Surgical Sciences, University of Foggia, Foggia, Italy
Unité de Régulation des Infections Rétrovirales, Institut Pasteur, Paris, France
Department of Clinical and Occupational Health, University of Foggia, Foggia, Italy


  1. Gaye-Diallo A, Toure AT, Gessain A, Gueye-Ndiaye A, Ndour AN, et al: Preliminary study of human Herpesvirus type 8 infection in pregnant women in Dakar (Senegal). Bull Soc Pathol Exot. 2001, 94: 231-234.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Sarmati L, Ticconi C, Santangelo R, Montano M, Rezza G, et al: Does the risk of abortion increases in women with high human herpesvirus-8 antibody titers?. J Infect Dis. 2003, 188: 173-174. 10.1086/375830.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar


© Di Stefano et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2008

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd.