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J Virol. 2004 Dec;78(24):13891-900.

Experimental infection of NOD/SCID mice reconstituted with human CD34+ cells with Epstein-Barr virus.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases Y9.206, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, 5323 Harry Hines Blvd., Dallas, TX 75390-9113, USA.


Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-induced lymphoproliferative disease is an important complication in the context of immune deficiency. Impaired T-cell immunity allows the outgrowth of transformed cells with the subsequent production of predominantly B-cell lymphomas. Currently there is no in vivo model that can adequately recapitulate EBV infection and its association with B-cell lymphomas. NOD/SCID mice engrafted with human CD34(+) cells and reconstituted mainly with human B lymphocytes may serve as a useful xenograft model to study EBV infection and pathogenesis. We therefore infected reconstituted mice with EBV. High levels of viral DNA were detected in the peripheral blood of all infected mice. All infected mice lost weight and showed decreased activity levels. Infected mice presented large visible tumors in multiple organs, most prominently in the spleen. These tumors stained positive for human CD79a, CD20, CD30, and EBV-encoded RNAs and were light chain restricted. Their characterization is consistent with that of large cell immunoblastic lymphoma. In addition, tumor cells expressed EBNA1, LMP1, and LMP2a mRNAs, which is consistent with a type II latency program. EBV(+) lymphoblastoid cell lines expressing human CD45, CD19, CD21, CD23, CD5, and CD30 were readily established from the bone marrow and spleens of infected animals. Finally, we also demonstrate that infection with an enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP)-tagged virus can be monitored by the detection of infected EGFP(+) cells and EGFP(+) tumors. These data demonstrate that NOD/SCID mice that are reconstituted with human CD34(+) cells are susceptible to infection by EBV and accurately recapitulate important aspects of EBV pathogenesis.

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