Association of haptoglobin phenotypes with the development of Kaposi’s sarcoma in HIV patients
Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS) is a rare cutaneous tumor caused by human herpes virus-8 (HHV-8) infection that preferentially develops in case of severe immunosuppression, such as in HIV/AIDS disease. Haptoglobin (Hp), a polymorphic multifunctional plasma protein, exerts several immunomodulatory effects and is characterized by a genetic polymorphism leading to three major phenotypes (Hp 1-1, Hp 2-1 and Hp 2-2). This study investigated the influence of Hp genetic polymorphism on the development of KS in HIV-positive patients. 661 HIV patients were enrolled in the study with a median age of 35 years and a median follow-up time of 57 months. Hp phenotyping was performed using hemoglobin-supplemented starch gel electrophoresis. In case of low Hp concentration high pressure gel permeation chromatography (HPGPC) was used. The Hp 1-1 phenotype was associated with a significant higher risk of KS compared to the combined group of Hp 2-1 and Hp 2-2 patients (p < 0.0005) which remained significant after adjustment for possible confounding variables (age, gender and AIDS status) (p < 0.001). In contrast, the Hp 2-1 phenotype carried the lowest risk. These findings point to the involvement of Hp phenotypes in the pathogenesis of KS, which may be due to a difference in skin immunosurveillance between the Hp phenotypes.