Squamous-cell carcinoma, Kaposi's sarcoma and Burkitt's lymphoma are consequences of impaired immune surveillance of ubiquitous viruses in acquired immune deficiency syndrome, allograft recipients and tropical African patients.


Journal Article (Review)

The immune system has evolved under Darwinian pressures as a defence against ubiquitous viruses. Immune surveillance against viral antigens protects the normal host. Individuals with inherited or acquired immune-deficiency disorders can become vulnerable to ubiquitous viruses and neoplasms can ensue, such as B-cell lymphoma, hepatocellular carcinoma, squamous-cell carcinoma, Kaposi's sarcoma, and carcinoma of the penis and uterine cervix. Immunodeficiency permits Epstein-Barr virus, hepatitis B virus, papillomavirus, herpes simplex virus, and cytomegalovirus to induce sustained target-cell proliferation. Each virus selects specific cellular targets bearing viral receptors and the infection leads to proliferation of the target cells rather than lysis. Various co-factors, including nutrition, exposure to tumour-promoting agents, parasitic infection, and ultraviolet light, may promote carcinogenesis. Depending on the type and severity of the immune deficiency, gradual proliferation may lead to evolution of a malignant clone. Conversion of polyclonal virally infected proliferating cells to give monoclonal malignancy is probably due to specific cytogenetic rearrangements which allow oncogene activation and endow an altered tumour cell with selective growth advantages over normal diploid cells. Prevention of viral oncogenesis may be possible by treatment of immune-deficient individuals with premalignant disorders. Immunotherapy and antiviral therapy may prevent progression of viral-induced proliferation to malignancy. The purpose of this paper is to discuss and evaluate the role of immune deficiency and viruses in the induction of malignancies commonly occurring in Africans residing in sub-Saharan Africa (Purtilo, 1976). The types of malignancies commonly occurring in this region are believed to be due to ubiquitous viruses. A failure of immune surveillance mechanisms to recognize viral antigens and abrogate proliferation of infected target cells predisposes to malignancy by increasing the chance of a proliferating cell undergoing a cytogenetic or molecular alteration which endows it with malignant characteristics. The immunological surveillance hypothesis has been elaborated during this century by Ehrlich, Thomas, Burnet, and Schwartz (reviewed by Purtilo & Linder, 1983). This hypothesis rests on several assumptions: that neoplastic cells possess unique tumour antigens: tumour antigens provoke an immune response in the host; and the immune response is protective and eliminates the tumour.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Purtilo, DT; Manolov, G; Manolova, Y; Harada, S; Lipscomb, H

Published Date

  • January 1, 1984

Published In

Start / End Page

  • 749 - 770

PubMed ID

  • 6100288

Pubmed Central ID

  • 6100288

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0300-5038


  • eng