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Hepatol Res. 2005 Sep;33(1):24-6. Epub 2005 Aug 19.

Epstein-Barr virus induced hepatitis: An important cause of cholestasis.

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  • 1Division of Digestive Diseases (AS, RR, FAA) and Hematology & Oncology (HTT), Emory University School of Medicine, 615 Michael Street, Whitehead Research Building #201, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.



: Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection frequently involves the liver, presenting as elevations in transaminases. EBV infection associated hepatitis, presenting with hyperbilirubinemia is rare. We describe a case of infectious mononucleosis that presented with cholestatasis, and summarize 23 cases from the literature to categorize this increasingly recognized clinical spectrum of EBV infection induced cholestatic hepatitis.


: We conducted an extensive literature review of all cases of EBV in pediatric and adult literature with cholestatasis using MEDLINE and EMBASE. We also included information on one case from our institution.


: We identified 24 cases. Median age was 20 years (range 1-72 years), with 14 (58%) females. On presentation, fever (72%), jaundice (67%) and splenomegaly (62%) were the most common signs. Laboratory data revealed the median asparate aminotransferase (AST), or alanine aminotransferase (ALT) level was 179IU/L (range 56-2518IU/L), median serum bilirubin level 12.6mg/dL (range 2.2-47.5mg/dL) and median alkaline phosphatase level 749IU/L (range 31-3105IU/L). Diagnosis was confirmed using EBV viral capsid antigen IgM in 20 (83%) patients. HIV testing was done in 7 (29%) of the cases, and was negative. One patient died from the illness, while full recovery was reported in all other cases, with median follow-up of 30 days (range 5-180 days).


: Cholestatasis is associated with EBV infection, and should be part of the differential diagnosis in all age groups, presenting with hyperbilirubinemia.

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