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Semin Hematol. 2003 Apr;40(2):124-32.

Epstein-Barr virus-associated T-/natural killer cell lymphoproliferative diseases.

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Department of Laboratory Sciences, School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Kanazawa University, Kanazawa, Japan.


Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is a ubiquitous virus that infects the majority of the world population by adulthood. The major target for infection is the B lymphocyte, and acute infection causes vigorous EBV-specific killer T-cell responses exemplified clinically by acute infectious mononucleosis (IM). EBV infection usually persists latently life-long without eliciting any clinical symptoms. Rarely, active EBV infection is prolonged, with abnormal expansions of EBV-infected T or NK cells, conditions collectively defined here as EBV-associated T/NK lymphoproliferative diseases. Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH), chronic active EBV infection (CAEBV), NK lymphoma/leukemia, and T-cell lymphoma are entities included in this category. Hypersensitivity to mosquito bite (HMB) represents a unique syndrome characterized by expansion of EBV-infected NK cells in the peripheral circulation and within the inflammatory skin lesions induced by mosquito bites. Target cell specificity, defects in host immune responses, and strain differences of EBV may account for ectopic EBV infections and for the unique clinical presentations characteristic of each illness.

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