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J Exp Med. 2003 Dec 1;198(11):1653-63.

Dendritic cells initiate immune control of epstein-barr virus transformation of B lymphocytes in vitro.

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  • 1Laboratory of Cellular Physiology and Immunology, The Rockefeller University, New York, NY 10021, USA.


The initiation of cell-mediated immunity to Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) has been analyzed with cells from EBV-seronegative blood donors in culture. The addition of dendritic cells (DCs) is essential to prime naive T cells that recognize EBV-latent antigens in enzyme-linked immunospot assays for interferon gamma secretion and eradicate transformed B cells in regression assays. In contrast, DCs are not required to control the outgrowth of EBV-transformed B lymphocytes from seropositive donors. Enriched CD4+ and CD8+ T cells mediate regression of EBV-transformed cells in seronegative and seropositive donors, but the kinetics of T-dependent regression occurs with much greater speed with seropositives. EBV infection of DCs cannot be detected by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction with primers specific for mRNA for the EBNA1 U and K exons. Instead, DCs capture B cell debris and generate T cells specific for EBV latency antigens. We suggest that the cross-presentation of EBV-latent antigens from infected B cells by DCs is required for the initiation of EBV-specific immune control in vivo and that future EBV vaccine strategies should target viral antigens to DCs.

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