Blood 2016 11 09129(7) 855-865 doi 10.1182/blood-2016-06-719716
Human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8) is the causative agent of Kaposi sarcoma (KS) and multicentric Castleman disease (MCD), a life-threatening, virally induced B-cell lymphoproliferative disorder. HHV-8 is a B-lymphotropic γ-herpesvirus closely related to the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). Invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells are innate-like T cells that play a role in antiviral immunity, specifically in controlling viral replication in EBV-infected B cells. Decline of iNKT cells is associated with age or HIV infection, both situations associated with HHV-8-related diseases. We analyzed iNKT cells in both blood (n = 26) and spleen (n = 9) samples from 32 patients with HHV-8 MCD and compared them with patients with KS (n = 24) and healthy donors (n = 29). We determined that both circulating and splenic iNKT cell frequencies were markedly decreased in patients with HHV-8 MCD and were undetectable in 6 of them. Moreover, iNKT cells from patients with HHV-8 MCD displayed a proliferative defect after stimulation with α-galactosylceramide. These iNKT cell alterations were associated with an imbalance in B-cell subsets, including a significant decrease in memory B cells, particularly of marginal zone (MZ) B cells. Coculture experiments revealed that the decrease in iNKT cells contributed to the alterations in the B-cell subset distribution. These observations contribute to a better understanding of the complex interactions between HHV-8 and immune cells that cause HHV-8-related MCD.