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Mol Cell Biochem. 2008 Jun;313(1-2):179-86. doi: 10.1007/s11010-008-9755-z. Epub 2008 Apr 15.

Epstein-Barr virus induces an oxidative stress during the early stages of infection in B lymphocytes, epithelial, and lymphoblastoid cell lines.

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Unité de Biotechnologie et Pathologies, Institut Supérieur de Biotechnologie de Sfax, Route de Soukra km4, B.P. 261, 3038 Sfax, Tunisia.


The study investigates the direct effect of Epstein-Barr virus infection on the oxidative profile of in vitro cultivated human cells. For this purpose, a panel of human EBV target cells presenting heterogeneity in their cellular and culture types (epithelial cells or lymphocytes; primary culture or continuous cell culture) was selected. These cells are purified human B lymphocytes, DG75, 293, and HepG2 cell lines. The oxidative stress was evaluated during the early stages of infection (2, 12, and 24 h) by measuring malondialdehyde, the end product of the lipid peroxidation, as well as the activities of two antioxidant enzymes: catalase and superoxide dismutase. The obtained results were compared with those of the untreated cells and the K562 cell line which has no interaction with EBV. The incubation of the different target cells with EBV induced an oxidative stress in the purified B lymphocytes, DG75, and 293, but not in HepG2 and K562. This oxidative stress was highlighted by an increase in MDA level (P < 0.05), which began 2 h after the addition of the virus and persisted after 12 and 24 h. Simultaneously, a decrease in catalase and superoxide dismutase activities was observed (P < 0.05), suggesting an alteration of the molecular mechanisms promoting cellular resistance to reactive oxygen species (ROS). The efficiency of EBV infection, assessed by viral DNA PCR amplification, was confirmed in 293 and DG75 but not in HepG2, which was in total concordance with their oxidative profiles. In conclusion, the EBV infection of B and epithelial cells leads to the establishment of an oxidative stress which can play a key role during the viral transformation.

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