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Environ Health Perspect. 1990 Aug;88:225-30.

Immune deficiency as a risk factor in Epstein-Barr virus-induced malignant diseases.

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  • 1Departments of Pathology and Microbiology, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha 68105.


Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is a ubiquitous DNA virus that normally infects silently, establishing lifelong latency. Substantial empirical observations support the view that immunodeficiency is permissive in EBV-induced lymphoproliferative diseases (LPD). Primary immune deficient patients such as those with X-linked lymphoproliferative disease and individuals with acquired immune deficiency secondary to immunosuppressive drugs for organ transplantation or individuals infected with human immunodeficiency virus are also at very high risk for lethal LPD. The importance of immunodeficiency and EBV in the development of head and neck carcinomas and uterine cervical carcinoma is less clear. Methods are available for detecting immunodeficiency and EBV genome and thus preventive strategies are being developed to preclude LPD from occurring.

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