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Int J Infect Dis. 2007 Mar;11(2):172-8. Epub 2006 Aug 23.

Circulating Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) in HIV-infected patients and its relation with primary brain lymphoma.

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Servicio Virus Oncogénicos, Instituto Nacional de Enfermedades Infecciosas (INEI)- ANLIS Dr. Carlos G. Malbrán, Av. Velez Sársfield 563, C 1282AFF Buenos Aires, Argentina.



To analyze Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) load at different HIV infection stages and its relation with brain lymphoma.


A cross-sectional study was conducted on 172 HIV-infected individuals: 62 asymptomatic HIV carriers (group A), 30 HIV progressors (group B), 73 AIDS patients (group C), seven AIDS patients with brain lymphoma (group C-BL); and 26 blood donors (group BD) as healthy carriers. EBV load was measured in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and plasma samples using a semi-quantitative PCR method.


PBMC-EBV levels in HIV-infected patients were higher than in the blood donors (p<0.05). No differences in PBMC-EBV loads were found in groups A, B, or C (p>0.05), while the C-BL group had significantly lower levels (p<0.05). Similar PBMC-EBV loads were seen in HIV-infected patients with CD4+ T cell counts higher than 50/mm(3) (p>0.05), while significantly lower levels were found in cases with less than 50 cells/mm(3) (p<0.05). In all HIV-infected patients, plasma-EBV load was lower than, or similar to, PBMC-EBV load, unlike 2/7 HIV-positive brain lymphoma patients.


During HIV infection PBMC-EBV load rises in comparison to healthy carriers, but decreases when immunosuppression progresses and CD4+ T cell count becomes <50/mm(3). Circulating EBV is mainly cell-associated in the HIV-infected population. Neither PBMC-EBV nor plasma-EBV loads would be useful to diagnose brain lymphoma in AIDS patients.

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